Stress and the coronary-prone behavior pattern in working women

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


Although the Type A behavior pattern (TABP) is firmly established as a risk factor for coronary heart disease, it is neither well understood from a psychological perspective nor is it well understood in women. The present study attempts to describe the TABP in a population of working women. The description is based both on physiological and psychological measures.

Ninety-four women were chosen from an original population of 157 women from the Roanoke and Blacksburg, Virginia areas. Each of these women completed the following psychometric instruments: Jenkins Activity Survey (JAS), Framingham Type A Scale, Novaco Anger Inventory, Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI), and Perceived Work Environment (PWE). In addition, a blood sample was obtained from each person.

The results revealed several personality differences between Type A and Type B women. Type As scored significantly higher on the three descriptive scales of the JAS than did TBs. The Type A women also had significantly higher total anger scores on the Novaco. A priori analysis of the types of items comprising the Novaco revealed that Type As were aroused to situations threatening them personally or their possessions while Type Bs were aroused by situations involving prejudices or injustices to others.

Analysis of the BSRI showed Type As to have endorsed significantly more masculine characteristics and fewer feminine characteristics than did Type Bs. Type As also responded in a more socially desirable direction.

Three of the PWE factors were found to be significantly different between Type A and Type B women. These factors were task characteristics, co-workers, and pressure to produce. These differences reflect perceptions of the environment. Significant interactions between Type A and the environment were seen in the administrative group indicating that certain environments influence the Type A's perceptions.

The physiological assessment was not significant. However, there was a strong trend evident that approached significance. The model was able to correctly classify approximately 78% of the population and there were observable differences between the Type A. Results indicated that Type As displayed characteristics of a stressed population such as increased corticosteroids, ceruloplasmin, and proteins along with decreased levels of glucose, ascorbic acid, and oxidation- reduction protein.