Patterns of Illness among Individuals Reporting High and Low Stress
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This paper reports the results of a prospective study of 428 adults, which was designed to explore the relationship between social stress and health. Individuals in the study were grouped into cohorts based on the number of stressful events experienced in a 12 month period, and the differences in the quantity and quality of health measures among the cohorts in the same time period explored. Individuals under stress experienced considerably more illness (assessed by symptoms reported on health diary and physician visits) than those not under stress. However the quality of these illness episodes were similar in both groups, as measured by the distribution of problems in organ system/body region and diagnostic categories. A second analysis, examining a subgroup of individuals who went from periods of low to high stress came to similar conclusions. The results suggest that the onset of stressful events is associated with a deterioration of health of a general nature, not associated with particular diseases of body systems.
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