A Study of the Relationship Between Emotional Processing, Emotional Control and Coronary Heart Disease

D. Purves, P. Erwin

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Objectives: To examine psychological correlates of coronary heart disease (CHD). Specifically, the extent to which anxiety, the ability to experience and express emotion (alexithymia), and emotional self-control are related to CHD. Design: Two matched groups of participants from one medical practice are compared on several standardised psychometric scales. One group consists of patients diagnosed with CHD, the other group has no such diagnosis. Method: Participants in the CHD group were 82 patients diagnosed by their physician as having CHD. The control group of 75 patients had no such diagnosis but were matched for age, sex, socio-economic status, relationship status and other risk factors. All Participants completed four scales: The Toronto Alexithymia Scale, the Courtauld Emotional Control Scale, the short form of the Manifest Anxiety Scale, and the Crowne Marlow Social Desirability Scale. Results: Preliminary analyses indicate a difference in the incidence of manifest anxiety and alexithymia between the two groups of patients. Eighty-one per cent of CHD patients scored positively for alexithymia, compared to 4.5 per cent of non-CHD patients. There were no significant differences between groups for emotional control scores, suggesting that patients with alexithymia are not over-controlling their emotions, they are simply not recognising them. A model of the path from emotional arousal to CHD will be presented and implications for psychological interventions will be discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2003
EventBritish Psychological Society (BPS) Annual Conference - Bournemouth, United Kingdom
Duration: 13 Mar 200315 Mar 2003


ConferenceBritish Psychological Society (BPS) Annual Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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