Attachment orientations and loss adjustment among bereaved spouses

A. S. LeRoy, T. Gabert, L. Garcini, K. W. Murdock, C. Heijnen, C. P. Fagundes

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1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Stressful life events such as losing a spouse can enhance inflammation. Responses to loss may depend, in part, on individual differences in attachment anxiety and avoidance. An individual's attachment orientation (i.e., an individual's levels of attachment anxiety and avoidance) reflects how an individual relates to others-- specifically, whether they feel their trusted others will reliably be there for them, and whether they feel comfortable opening up to and depending on their relationship partners. This study investigated the association between attachment orientations and poor loss adjustment in recently bereaved individuals (N = 100). Poor loss adjustment was operationalized as greater levels of inflammation and grief symptoms, as well as poorer self-reported mental and physical health. Attachment anxiety was associated with increased stimulated monocyte IL-6 and CCL4 production, but not TNFα. Likewise, attachment anxiety was associated with greater grief symptoms as well as poorer mental and physical health. In contrast, attachment avoidance was not associated with inflammation; it was, however, associated with less grief symptoms as well as better self-reported mental and physical health. Our findings provide evidence that attachment orientations may be associated with loss adjustment and adverse health outcomes following the recent loss of a spouse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104401
JournalPsychoneuroendocrinology
Volume112
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2020

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Keywords

  • Attachment
  • Grief
  • Inflammation
  • Mental health
  • Spousal bereavement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

Cite this

LeRoy, A. S., Gabert, T., Garcini, L., Murdock, K. W., Heijnen, C., & Fagundes, C. P. (2020). Attachment orientations and loss adjustment among bereaved spouses. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 112, [104401]. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2019.104401