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Cardiovascular reactivity to a marital conflict version of the Trier social stress test in intimate partner violence perpetrators

, : Cardiovascular reactivity to a marital conflict version of the Trier social stress test in intimate partner violence perpetrators. Stress 17(4): 321-327

Intimate partner violence (IPV) perpetrators have been categorized into two groups based on their heart rate (HR) reactivity to stress following Gottman's studies. Overall, type I perpetrators tend to show autonomic underarousal, whereas type II or reactive perpetrators present a hyper-reactivity in anticipation of stress. In this study, changes in HR, pre-ejection period (PEP), vagal ratio as well as psychological state variables (anxiety and anger) in response to stress were assessed, comparing a group of type II IPV perpetrators (based on violence reports and psychological assessment; n = 17; mean age = 37) with non-violent controls (n = 17; mean age = 35) using modified version of the Trier Social Stress Test. IPV perpetrators had higher HRs and lower vagal ratios than controls, particularly during the recovery period. Moreover, the former presented shorter PEPs than controls. There were no differences between groups in the magnitude of response of the HR, PEP or vagal ratio. High baseline anxiety and anger were associated with an HR increase during the preparation time in IPV perpetrators but not in controls. These findings indicate a different cardiovascular pattern of response to psychosocial stress in IPV perpetrators, especially during recovery. Thus, they contribute to understanding the biological functioning of violence sub-types, supporting the validity of cardiovascular measures as diagnostic indicators for IPV classification.


PMID: 24766372

DOI: 10.3109/10253890.2014.919448

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