Vida Pourmand, Adebisi A. Akinyemi, Beatriz Lopez Galeana, Darcianne K. Watanabe, LaBarron K. Hill, Cameron R. Wiley, Jos F. Brosschot, Julian F. Thayer, DeWayne P. Williams

Multi‐ethnic variation in the ties that bind rumination and heart rate variability: Implications for health disparities

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Applied Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • General Medicine

AbstractHigher self‐reported rumination, a common form of trait perseverative cognition, is linked with lower resting heart rate variability (HRV), which indicates poorer cardiac function and greater disease risk. A meta‐analysis and systematic review indicated that in samples with fewer European Americans, the association of rumination with both heart rate and blood pressure was stronger. Thus, trait rumination may be more strongly associated with resting HRV among ethnically minoritized populations. The current study investigated whether differences in the association of self‐reported rumination with resting HRV varied by ethnicity in a sample (N = 513; Mage = 19.41; 226 Women) of self‐identified African Americans (n = 110), Asian Americans (n = 84), and European Americans (n = 319). Participants completed a five‐minute baseline period to assess resting HRV, followed by the Ruminative Responses Scale, which contains three facets of rumination including brooding, depressive, and reflective rumination. On average, Asian Americans reported higher levels of rumination relative to European Americans. African Americans had higher resting HRV than Asian Americans. Adjusting for covariates, higher self‐reported rumination was significantly associated with lower resting HRV in both African and Asian Americans, but not significantly so in European Americans. This finding was consistent for brooding and reflective, but not depressive rumination. Overall, this study lends insight into a psychological mechanism—rumination—that may impact health disparities among ethnically minoritized individuals, contributing to an understanding of how stress gets under the skin among such minoritized populations.

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