Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Volume 50 Issue 1 (March 1977), Pages 1-111

Correlates of illness susceptibility (pages 79-86)

Previous research has indicated that cognitive‐emotional factors, psychosocial stress, and systemic activity play a role in the contraction and course of numerous diseases. The present study investigated the relative contributions of these variables. Fifty‐five male undergraduates were given questionnaires assessing general emotionality, and psychosocial stress and illness history over a four‐year period. Autonomic indices of pulse rate, respiration, peripheral circulation, and skin resistance were also obtained under conditions of rest and stress (threat of electric shock). Using number of past illnesses as the dependent variable, a stepwise multiple regression analysis was performed. Only amount of psychosocial stress and, related to it, number of different kinds of psychosocial stress yielded significant partial correlations. Results are discussed in relation to other research, with emphasis on the conceptual and methodological difficulties of assessing psychophysiological mediators of morbidity.

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