McCanne, Thomas R.
Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)
Department of Psychology
Research on the relationship between psychological stress and physical health has taken two separate approaches: studying trauma and physical health and studying daily hassles and physical health. Research on the relationship between trauma and physical health indicates that people who have experienced a traumatic event report more physical symptoms and have more contact with the health care system than people who have not experienced a traumatic event. Research on the relationship between daily hassles and physical health indicates that people who experience more daily hassles report greater numbers of physical symptoms than people who experience fewer daily hassles and that an increase in hassles may precede illness episodes. Some limitations of the existing literature on psychological stress and physical health are that much of the research is correlational, uses data gathered from a one-time assessment, or fails to use comparison groups. The present study attempted to address these limitations by measuring daily hassles and physical symptoms prospectively in two groups: traumatized women and nontraumatized controls. Participants filled out daily measures of hassles and physical symptoms for 28 days. After identifying a target day of high stress and a target day of low stress within each participant, the data from four days preceding the target days of stress, the target days of stress, and five days following the target days of high and low stress were analyzed. Although the two groups did not differ in the number of physical symptoms or the severity of daily hassles they reported overall, there was a significant difference between the number of physical symptoms reported following the days of high and low stress by the Trauma History group but not by the No Trauma History group. This finding suggests that women who have experienced a traumatic event may be susceptible to daily stress and experience a more sustained physical reaction to stress than women who have not experienced a traumatic event.
Cross, Melissa R., "The relationship between trauma history, daily hassles, and physical symptoms" (2002). Graduate Research Theses & Dissertations. 6187.
iv, 107 pages
Northern Illinois University
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