GEORGE L. ENGEL, M.D.
In this issue there is a paper by Thomas (p. 653) that deserves thoughtful attention. A summary report of painstaking, diligent work extending over almost 30 years, it constitutes a major breakthrough in documenting prospectively what has long been postulated on the basis of retrospective studies, namely, that people with different disease predispositions also may differ among psychological and personality variables. In other words, psychological variables are not distributed randomly either between those with good as compared to poor health records or across all disease categories. Rather, not only are certain psychological patterns and constellations more prominent among individuals with greater predisposition to illness and death before age 50, but also these patterns may be different for different disorders. This would be in keeping with a long-held psychosomatic theory that psychological characteristics may directly or indirectly influence individual susceptibility to disease.
Elucidation of the role of psychosocial variables in altering susceptibility to disease is the main task of psychosomatic research. It asks why, when exposed to similar
GEORGE L. ENGEL. The Predictive Value of Psychological Variables for Disease and Death. Ann Intern Med. 1976;85:673–674. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-85-5-673
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 1976;85(5):673-674.
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