Title page for ETD etd-08222005-145449

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Grothe, Karen
Author's Email Address kgrothe@psychiatry.umsmed.edu
URN etd-08222005-145449
Title The Psychosocial Vulnerability Model of Hostility as a Predictor of Coronary Heart Disease
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Phillip J. Brantley Committee Chair
Amy L. Copeland Committee Member
Carole Jurkiewicz Committee Member
Mary L. Kelley Committee Member
Juan Barthelemy Dean's Representative
  • cardiovascular disease
  • low income
  • african americans
Date of Defense 2005-06-13
Availability unrestricted
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the number one killer for both men and women in the United States today. African Americans are particularly at risk, due to higher prevalence rates and mortality related to CHD (American Heart Association, 2003). Less than half of the new cases of CHD can be predicted with known risk factors (tobacco use, obesity, hypertension), which suggests the possible influence of personality or additional behavioral factors. Hostility is a psychological variable that has been consistently related to health outcomes, particularly to CHD. While the exact mechanism linking hostility to health is currently unknown, a psychosocial vulnerability model has been proposed (Smith, 1992). This model suggests that hostile persons experience higher levels of stress and lower levels of social support due to their cynical nature and negative interactions with others. Because increased levels of stress and low levels of social support have been consistently linked to CHD, it is possible that hostility exerts its influence on health through creating a psychosocial profile that is at risk for heart disease. At present, few studies have examined the psychosocial vulnerability model of hostility, particularly in samples of medical patients at risk for CHD. The current study examined the relationships among the variables included in this model (hostility, minor stress, social support) and the ability of the model to predict disease status in a sample of low-income, African American participants. Results of this study provided only partial support for the psychosocial vulnerability model. Possible explanations for current findings are discussed.
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