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Int J Adolesc Med Health. 2007 Oct-Dec;19(4):523-8.

Social support and loneliness in college students: effects on pulse pressure reactivity to acute stress.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health Research, St. Vincent's University Hospital, Elm Park, Dublin 4, Ireland.


Socially supportive relationships at university may buffer against psychological stress in students, particularly in those experiencing loneliness.


To examine the relation of social support at university and loneliness with pulse pressure (PP) reactivity to acute psychological stress in a sample of first-year undergraduate students.


Sixty-five female, adolescent, first-year university students.


Pulse pressure (PP) was calculated as the arithmetic difference between systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure, which were measured during a resting baseline and during a stressful reading task. The difference between baseline and reading task PP represents PP reactivity. The Social Support at University Scale (SSUS) was used to assess social support availability in university, and the Revised UCLA Loneliness Scale was used to assess loneliness. Hierarchical linear regression was used to examine main and interactive effects of SSUS and loneliness on PP change scores, and simple slopes were computed to assist in the interpretation of interaction effects.


Social support at university was associated with lower PP reactivity in students reporting medium (t = -2.03, p = .04) or high levels of loneliness (t = -2.93, p = .004), but not in those reporting low levels of loneliness (t = -0.20, p = .83).


Psychosocial interventions designed to increase social support available at university, and targeted at students experiencing loneliness may buffer against the harmful effects of acute stressors in lonely first-year students.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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