adrenomedullary (SAM) and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) regulatory systems. Conversely, positive maternal behavior protects against expression of genetic risk for serotonin dysregulation. Parenting also plays an important role in modifying genetically based temperamental differences in children. Such evidence indicates that empirical specification of pathways requires delineating best indicators of quality of parenting, temperaments, and family environments that can be utilized in large longitudinal studies. A companion set of physiological indicators of SAM and HPA system functioning is also required for use in large population studies. Protocols for salivary cortisol assessments, for example, on children are well developed (Gunnar, 1999). In addition, a broad array of biomarkers on children were collected as part of the NHANES III (U.S. DHHS, 1994). 2 What is required is the identification of subsets of biomarkers and protocols for their assessment that are most directly associated with psychosocial measures used to construct pathways.

Assessment of Personal Ties

Diverse forms of personal ties (e.g., mother-child attachment, spousal intimacy, close friendships, relationships with work colleagues) are central to pathway specifications relating to both negative and positive health outcomes (see Chapter 5). Recent literature suggests that the emotional aspects of personal ties are salient features linking the psychosocial level of description to biology and downstream health consequences (Ryff and Singer, in press). The study of emotion in personal ties requires further development at a conceptual and measurement level to relate emotions of both positive and negative valence to health. What is needed is a multimethod technology for assessing emotion in personal ties (e.g., survey instruments, focused interviews, writing tasks, experimental protocols) that together comprise comprehensive specification of pathways at the psychosocial level and their relationship to biology. A thorough investigation of the interplay between psychosocial assessments and neurophysiological measurements (e.g., left- versus right-side activation of the prefrontal cortex connected to the emotional aspects of personal ties; Ryff and Singer, in press) is an essential component of such a program of methodological development.

Assessment of Work and Unemployment Influences

There is an extensive literature associating adversity in the workplace and spells of unemployment with later-life chronic disease and mortality

2  

The data are available electronically: NHANES: www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes.htm.



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