Anita DeLongis

Prospective Graduate Students / Postdocs

This faculty member is currently not actively recruiting graduate students or Postdoctoral Fellows, but might consider co-supervision together with another faculty member.


Research Classification

Research Interests

social determinants of health
chronic illness
Health Psychology
social support

Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs

Affiliations to Research Centres, Institutes & Clusters

Research Options

I am available and interested in collaborations (e.g. clusters, grants).
I am interested in and conduct interdisciplinary research.

Research Methodology

Intensive longitudinal designs
Prospective methods
community-based research

Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision

Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.

Is it hurting or helping? The relationship between social support type, self-efficacy, and well-being in stressed dyadic partnerships (2022)

For most people, an intimate partner serves as the first and most important support provider during times of stress. While the perception of support availability has been shown to predict positive outcomes for well-being, research on support transactions (the act of receiving or providing support) has had mixed results. Research suggests that receiving support can sometimes incur costs opposed to benefitting the support receiver. This research seeks to examine when and what types of support transactions can be costly or beneficial to support recipients in times of stress. Chapter 2 examines the relationship that social support and self-efficacy have on rheumatoid arthritis disease activity. An interaction model was assessed that investigated the role that participant’s arthritis self-efficacy and social support had in disease activity at a 1-year follow-up. Participants who reported low self-efficacy and high levels of social support reported the highest level of disease activity, while participants high in self-efficacy and social support reported the lowest levels of disease activity. Chapter 3 tested the reliability and validity of a multidimensional social support transaction scale. Performing a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) across three separate samples suggested that the multidimensional support had a reliable 5-factor structure. The 5 types of social support measured included emotional/esteem, informational, tangible, affectionate, and negative support. Chapter 4 uses the scale validated in the previous chapter to investigate the impact that various support types and self-efficacy have on stressed, dual-earning, married couples with a pre-school aged child. The results suggested that negative and informational support indirectly predicted daily relationship satisfaction through self-efficacy, while receiving emotional support earlier in the day was positively associated with subsequent relationship satisfaction. In summary, this research adds to the growing body of literature on self-efficacy and support receipt, improving our understanding of how different support transactions can predict short- and long-term outcomes in stressed couples.

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We cope together: predictors and consequences of social support mobilization (2019)

Perceptions of support availability are important for well-being. However, little is known about support mobilization. Questions remain about when support is likely to be sought and provided and why support receipt is not always linked to improvements in well-being. This research examined support mobilization in three intensive longitudinal studies. Study 1 categorized appraisals of threat during stressful situations based on whether they were agentic (self-focused) or communal (other-focused). A model linking stressors, appraisals of agentic and communal threat, and support mobilization was examined. Consistent with expectations, increases in agentic threat were associated with increases in support seeking and decreases in support provision. In contrast, increases in communal threat were associated with increases in support seeking and provision. Study 2 extended results of Study 1 by examining whether the associations between threats and support are moderated by extraversion and agreeableness, personality dimensions previously implicated in the support process. At times when participants experienced increases in agentic threat, those higher in extraversion increased their support seeking and decreased their support provision to a greater extent than those lower in extraversion. At times when participants experienced increases in communal threat, those higher in agreeableness increased their support seeking and provision to a greater extent than those lower in agreeableness. Study 3 examined the associations between pain and several types of emotional support mobilization from partners to individuals diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Those with RA provided reports on pain mornings and evenings across one week. Both partners also reported three types of emotional support: esteem, solicitous, and negative from the partners to the person with RA. Pain tended to increase across the day following increases in negative support receipt and solicitous support provision. Pain tended to decrease across the day when partners reported increased levels of esteem support provision. This research adds to the growing body of literature on the support mobilization process, building knowledge on factors that might lead people to seek and provide support during stress. This research also unpacks different types of emotional support and sheds light on the types that may be helpful in chronic pain contexts.

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Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Pandemic stressors and depressive symptoms : examining within- and between-person effects of neuroticism (2023)

Experiencing stressors related to the COVID-19 pandemic such as health-related concern, social isolation, occupational disruption, financial insecurity, and resource scarcity can adversely impact mental health; however, the extent of the impact varies greatly between individuals. In this study, we examined the role of neuroticism as an individual-level risk factor that exacerbates the association between pandemic stressors and depressive symptoms. With repeated assessments of pandemic stressors and depressive symptoms collected from 3,181 participants over the course of the pandemic, we used multilevel modeling to test if neuroticism moderated the association between pandemic stressors and depressive symptoms at both between- and within-person levels. At the between-person level, we found that participants who reported more pandemic stressors on average had higher levels of depressive symptoms and that this association was stronger among those high in neuroticism. At the within-person level, reporting more pandemic stressors relative to one’s average on any given occasion was also associated with heightened depressive symptoms and this effect was similarly exacerbated by neuroticism. The findings point to pandemic stressor exposure and neuroticism as risk factors for depressive symptoms and, in demonstrating their synergistic impact, may help identify individuals at greatest risk for adverse psychological responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Informal helping and subsequent health and well-being in older U.S. adults (2022)

While there is a large and growing body of evidence around the health and well-being benefits of formal volunteering, less is known about the downstream benefits of informal helping behaviors. A small literature has evaluated associations between informal helping and health and well-being outcomes. However, epidemiological studies have not evaluated if changes in informal helping are associated with subsequent health and well-being. Using data from 12,998 participants in the Health and Retirement Study, a national cohort of US adults aged >50, we evaluated if changes in informal helping (between t0;2006/2008 and t1;2010/2012) were associated with 35 indicators of physical, behavioral, and psychosocial health and well-being (at t2;2014/2016). Over the four-year follow-up period, informal helping >=100 (versus 0) hours/year was associated with a 32% lower mortality risk (95% CI [0.54, 0.86]), and improved physical health (e.g., 21% reduced risk of stroke (95% CI [0.64, 0.96])), health behaviors (e.g., 11% increased physical activity (95% CI [1.04, 1.19])), and psychosocial outcomes (e.g., higher purpose in life (β=0.13, 95% CI [0.08, 0.18])). However, there was also evidence that informal helping was associated with higher negative affect (β=0.06, 95% CI [0.003, 0.12]) and little evidence of associations with various other outcomes. In secondary analyses, we adjusted for formal volunteering and caregiving and results were largely unchanged. Encouraging informal helping may improve various aspects of health and well-being and also promote societal well-being.

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Psychological distress in North America during COVID-19: the role of pandemic-related stressors (2021)

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on lives around the globe. In addition to the primary threat of infection, widespread secondary stressors associated with the pandemic have included social isolation, financial insecurity, resource scarcity, and occupational difficulties. The current study examined the impact of these disruptions on psychological distress during the initial adjustment phase to the pandemic in North America. A sample of 2463 residents of the US and Canada completed both baseline and follow-up surveys across several weeks between March and May 2020. Those participants perceiving stress related to higher levels of personal threat to health and to the well-being of family members at baseline reported higher levels of depressive symptoms at follow-up, even after controlling for baseline depressive symptoms. In addition, pandemic-related secondary stressors (social isolation, financial insecurity, occupational difficulty, and resource scarcity) were all independently associated with depressive symptoms at follow-up, controlling for both baseline depression and perceived health threats. The results were robust and held up after controlling for demographic factors. Women, young adults, and those who reported lower income were all at higher risk for subsequent depressive symptoms. Findings from the present study can help to identify key groups at risk for mental health problems during the pandemic and indicate actionable areas for targeted intervention.

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Predicting posttraumatic stress symptomology in emergency medical personnel: the role of perceived stress and rumination (2018)

Paramedics are frequently exposed to traumatic events on the job, and although they have higher levels of posttraumatic stress symptomology (PTSS) than the general population (Berger et al., 2012), not all paramedics experience high PTSS. Identifying factors that impact PTSS among individuals who are frequently exposed to traumatic stress is important for the development of evidence-based interventions. Using a longitudinal design, we examined relationships among rumination, perceived stress, and PTSS in 87 shift-working paramedics. Perceived stress and rumination were examined daily across a one-week period, while measurements of PTSS were assessed at baseline and at a two-year follow-up. Regression analyses indicated that perceived stress significantly predicted rumination. Rumination significantly predicted PTSS at the two-year follow-up, even after controlling for baseline PTSS, depression, and occupational stressors. Perceived stress did not directly predict PTSS at follow-up. Rather, rumination mediated the relationship between perceived stress and PTSS. Specifically, higher levels of perceived stress were associated with higher rumination, and higher rumination was associated with higher levels of PTSS at follow-up. These findings suggest the importance of targeting both perceived stress and rumination in clinical interventions for individuals who are frequently exposed to traumatic stressors.

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The impact of daily occupational stress on sleep among shift workers: social support as a buffer (2015)

Shift workers are a population at risk for experiencing poor sleep. Given the evidence linking health with shift work and sleep disturbance, it is important to identify factors that can exacerbate or mitigate sleep problems in this vulnerable population. We followed eighty-seven shift-working paramedics morning and evening over one week using an intensive longitudinal design. Multilevel modeling was used to examine whether the detrimental effects of daily occupational stress on sleep quality were buffered by perceived social support availability. Paramedics who reported more social support tended to report better quality sleep over the week. Additionally, social support buffered sleep from day-to-day fluctuations in occupational stress as well as from high average occupational stress over the week. Findings indicated that those with low levels of social support displayed poor sleep quality on days with high occupational stress; those high in support did not show significant effects of occupational stress on sleep. Those with low levels of social support tended to also display poor sleep on average across the week when they also tended to report high occupational stress on average across the week. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

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Couples Coping with Rheumatoid Arthritis : Spouse Empathic Responding as a Moderator of Depressive Symptoms y (2014)

Objective. To examine the effects of depressive symptoms and empathic responding on patient disability and marital quality over time. To identify factors that contribute to patient perceptions of spouses as responding empathically to their rheumatoid arthritis. Methods. Patients diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and their spouses (n = 133 couples) independently completed mailed questionnaires at baseline and one year later. Patients completed measures of functional impairment, marital quality, depressive symptoms, and perceived empathic responding from their spouse. Spouses reported their own depressive symptoms and empathic responding behavior. Results. Perceived empathic responding was found to interact with spouse depressive symptoms contributing significantly to the prediction of patient functional impairment reports at follow-up. Only when spouse empathic responding was low was spouse depression associated with greater patient functional impairment at 1-year follow-up. Similarly, in the model predicting patient marital quality at follow-up, there were significant 2-way interactions between perceived empathic responding and both spouse depressive symptoms and patient depressive symptoms. Only when spouse empathic responding was low did patient or spouse depression significantly predict poorer marital quality at follow-up. Patient perceptions of spouse empathic responding were found to depend on spouse reports of their own empathic responding, patient marital satisfaction, and the interaction of patient depressive symptoms and marital satisfaction. Conclusion. Empathic responding from the spouse was found to buffer against the negative effects of spouse depression on functional and marital outcomes for patients with RA. In developing couple-oriented RA treatments, increasing perceived empathic responding could serve as a useful target for intervention.

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Member of G+PS
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