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Can personality traits predict the future development of heart disease in hospitalized psychiatric veterans?

Williams W, Kunik ME, Springer J, Graham DP. Can personality traits predict the future development of heart disease in hospitalized psychiatric veterans? Journal of psychiatric practice. 2013 Nov 1; 19(6):477-89.

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OBJECTIVE: To examine which personality traits are associated with the new onset of chronic coronary heart disease (CHD) in psychiatric inpatients within 16 years after their initial evaluation. We theorized that personality measures of depression, anxiety, hostility, social isolation, and substance abuse would predict CHD development in psychiatric inpatients. METHOD: We used a longitudinal database of psychological test data from 349 Veterans first admitted to a psychiatric unit between October 1, 1983, and September 30, 1987. Veterans Affairs and national databases were assessed to determine the development of new-onset chronic CHD over the intervening 16-year period. RESULTS: New-onset CHD developed in 154 of the 349 (44.1%) subjects. Thirty-one psychometric variables from five personality tests significantly predicted the development of CHD. We performed a factor analysis of these variables because they overlapped and four factors emerged, with positive adaptive functioning the only significant factor (OR = 0.798, p = 0.038). CONCLUSION: These results support previous research linking personality traits to the development of CHD, extending this association to a population of psychiatric inpatients. Compilation of these personality measures showed that 31 overlapping psychometric variables predicted those Veterans who developed a diagnosis of heart disease within 16 years after their initial psychiatric hospitalization. Our results suggest that personality variables measuring positive adaptive functioning are associated with a reduced risk of developing chronic CHD.

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