Comment: Handholding and hugs from partner lower stress response.

2003 Fall;29(3):123-30.


The authors investigated the relationship between brief warm social and physical contact among cohabitating couples and blood pressure (BP) reactivity to stress in a sample of healthy adults (66 African American, 117 Caucasian; 74 women, 109 men). Prior to stress, the warm contact group underwent a 10-minute period of handholding while viewing a romantic video. Followed by a 20-second hug with their partner, while the no contact group rested quietly for 10 minutes and 20 seconds. In response to a public speaking task, individuals receiving prestress partner contact demonstrated lower systolic BP diastolic BP, and heart rate increases compared with the no contact group. The effects of warm contact were comparable for men and women and were greater for African Americans compared with Caucasians. These findings suggest that affectionate relationships with a supportive partner may contribute to lower reactivity to stressful life events and may partially mediate the benefit of marital support on better cardiovascular health.