Author(s): Denollet J
Abstract Share this page
Abstract OBJECTIVE: Acute and chronic psychological distress have been associated with coronary heart disease (CHD) but little is known about the determinants of distress as a coronary risk factor. Broad and stable personality traits may have much explanatory power; this article selectively focuses on negative affectivity (NA; tendency to experience negative emotions) and social inhibition (SI; tendency to inhibit self-expression in social interaction) in the context of CHD. METHODS: The first part of this article reviews research on NA and SI in patients with CHD. The second part presents new findings on NA and SI in 734 patients with hypertension. RESULTS: Accumulating evidence suggests that the combination of high NA and high SI designates a personality subtype ("distressed" type or type D) of coronary patients who are at risk for clustering of psychosocial risk factors and incidence of long-term cardiac events. Type D and its contributing low-order traits (dysphoria/tension and reticence/withdrawal) could also be reliably assessed in a community-based sample of patients with hypertension. This finding was replicated in men and women, and in Dutch- and French-speaking subjects. Type D hypertensives reported more depressive affect than their non type D counterparts. CONCLUSIONS: There is an urgent need to adopt a personality approach in the identification of patients at risk for cardiac events. NA and SI are broad and stable personality traits that may be of special interest not only in CHD, but in other chronic medical conditions as well.
This article was published in J Psychosom Res
and referenced in Journal of Yoga & Physical Therapy