Friday, June 3, 2016
Pacific N/O (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Introduction: Psychosocial resilience may confer protective effects in aging, against mental health problems or maladaptive behaviors. Such resilience has been defined as the ability to maintain psychological health in the face of threat. Both individual and contextual-level factors influence resilience, including genetics and social networks. There is evidence that a common human mutation in the gene for fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) may play a role in extinguishing the fear response, thereby aiding in resilient adaptation to threat. Also, the stress-buffering hypothesis posits that being surrounded by a more supportive social network may facilitate coping processes, and thereby limit pathological consequences of threat. The aims of of this study were to examine whether: (H1) in accordance with the stress-buffering hypothesis, a more supportive social network associates with lower psychosocial resilience, and (H2) carriers of the FAAH mutation exhibit greater psychosocial resilience compared to non-carriers, despite exposure to traumatic events. Further, as evidence exists for an ethnic paradox, in which mental health between ethnic groups diverges in older ages, we test our hypotheses separately by ethnicity in order to examine whether social support and the FAAH mutation contribute to the etiology of this divergence. Methods: Psychosocial resilience, lifetime trauma, social support network were assessed in a subsample of 11,192 participants (59% female; baseline mean age=69, range 50-107 years; 79% Non-Hispanic White (NHW), 10% Hispanic-Latino (HL), 11% African-American (AA)) of the U.S. Health and Retirement Study. Psychosocial resilience was assessed with a 12-item scale (Manning et al., 2014). Lifetime traumas included death of a child, major disaster, combat, victimization, and life-threatening diagnoses. Social support network was characterized by the level of supportive relationships with a partner, family, job contacts, and parents. Presence of the FAAH mutation (rs324420: A allele) was determined in a subset of 10,096 individuals who provided genetic data. Multiple regression models were constructed to test hypotheses, adjusted for age, sex, and education. Results: H1 was supported across all ethnicities (b’s=.51 to .62, p’s<.0001). With regard to H2, among NHWs only, exposure to more lifetime trauma dampened resilience (b=-.08, p<.0001), although that effect was weakened among those who carry the FAAH mutation (b=.07, p=.01). Conclusions: A supportive social network promotes psychosocial resilience in older individuals, regardless of ethnicity and trauma exposure. Thus, augmenting this resource for all individuals, especially those who do not carry the FAAH mutation, may be a valuable defense against negative effects of trauma.