Cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains the number one cause of death among men in the United States. Emerging research demonstrates that socioemotional mechanisms such as adult attachment, or the ways in which individuals are able to form and maintain socioemotional bonds, may impact physical health via alterations in physiological stress functioning. However, there may be key differences in the relation between attachment and physical health by race and sexual orientation. Thus, this study sought to examine the potential moderating effect of race and sexual orientation on the association between adult attachment and carotid-intima media thickness (cIMT), a measure of subclinical cardiovascular disease, among young men. The sample consisted of 72 young men (mean [SD] age = 22.92 [3.23]: 30.6 % identified as White, 30.6 % as Black, and 38.8 % as Other), each of which were surveyed and underwent an ultrasound to measure cIMT. Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) regression was used in order to examine our study hypotheses. We first ran a main effects model to examine adult attachment’s (i.e., anxiety and avoidance) association with mean cIMT. We then ran two interaction models with an interaction between race/ethnicity and adult-related attachment and sexual orientation and adult attachment. We found that race significantly moderated the association between attachment-related anxiety and mean cIMT in our study sample. However, we did not find evidence to suggest that race moderated the association between attachment-related avoidance and mean cIMT in our study sample. In comparison to White individuals, Black individuals and those who identified as “Other” race with lower scores on attachment-related anxiety had higher mean cIMT. Additionally, higher scores on attachment-related anxiety were associated with lower mean cIMT among Black and “Other” respondents, but not among White respondents. We did not find evidence to suggest that sexual orientation moderated the association between adult attachment and mean cIMT in our study sample. Our findings suggest that adult attachment anxiety may be protective for young men of color but not for White young men. Future research should utilize longitudinal study designs in order to better understand how adult attachment influences CVD risk among racially/ethnically diverse young men.
Young men of color lower on adult attachment anxiety have higher carotid-intima media thickness compared to white young men: The exploration of an unexpected finding
Psychoneuroendocrinology, 143, 105825. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2022.105825.