Graduation Year

2003

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Psychology

Major Professor

Charles D. Spielberger

Co-Major Professor

Douglas Schocken, M.D.

Keywords

emotion, personality, illness perceptions, heart attack, behavioral cardiology

Abstract

The goal of this study was to examine differences in the psychological characteristics of patients admitted to the hospital for acute or chronic Myocardial Infarction (MI) or Unstable Angina (UA). Depression, anger, anxiety, curiosity, defensiveness, social support, and coping were evaluated for 165 patients (86 MI and 79 UA), who were tested on the Cardiology Stepdown Ward of Tampa General Hospital. The following psychological measures were administered to these patients: the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), the State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory (STAXI-2), the Rationality/Emotional Defensiveness (R/ED) Scale, the Adult Form of the Coping Responses Inventory (CRI-Adult), the Interpersonal Support Evaluation List (ISEL), the Illness Perception Questionnaire (IPQ), the State-Trait Personality Inventory (STPI), and the Structured Clinical Interview (SCID-I) for the DSM - IV. Significantly more chronic patients than acute patients met criteria for depression as measured by the SCID following admission to the hospital, and more UA than MI patients also met these criteria. However, no differences were found between the acute and chronic MI and UA patients two weeks prior to admission. Results of this study also indicated that chronic patients and UA patients reported a greater frequency of illness symptoms and tended to cope with their heart disease through avoidant strategies. Chronic patients endorsed higher levels of state and trait anger compared with acute patients, and UA patients were less likely to believe that their illness could be cured or controlled (Control of Cure) than MI patients. Based on the results of this study, it appears that avoidance coping may be an insufficient strategy for addressing negative emotions of chronic patients and UA patients. In addition, perceived lack of control over the success of treatment may be related to depression for UA patients. These findings have important implications for the development and implementation of interventions designed to address perceived control over treatment effectiveness and coping skills for negative emotions in the treatment and rehabilitation of cardiac patients.

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