Support and Coronary Heart Disease: The Importance of Significant Other Responses

Abstract

In addition to the recognized benefits of social support, there is evidence across several health-related disorders suggesting that specific types of support can contribute to negative outcomes. Informed by theory and research examining the role of pain-related interpersonal interactions in the perpetuation of chronic pain, this study examined whether specific responses from significant others to expressions of coronary heart disease(CHD) related symptoms and incapacity are associated with level of symptoms, degree of disability, and depressive symptom severity among persons with symptomatic CHD. Forty-nine persons with CHD completed self-report questionnaires of the constructs of interest. Regression analyses revealed that degree of perceived solicitous responding to CHD symptoms was associated with increased symptom severity, disability, and depressive symptoms. Results are consistent with an operant-conditioning model and suggest that positive attention from significant others contingent on expressions of CHD symptoms may unwittingly serve to reinforce symptom occurrence and expression, concomitant disability, and emotional distress.

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