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J Psychosom Res. 1990;34(6):643-9.

Childhood traumas and psychosocial characteristics of 50-year-old men with essential hypertension.

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Department of Internal Medicine, UllevÄl University Hospital, Oslo, Norway.


The aim of the present study was to describe childhood traumas and other psychosocial characteristics of middle-aged men with never-treated essential hypertension. Hypertensive (N = 17) and normotensive (N = 18) 50-yr-old men were selected from the Oslo Study of Cardiovascular Diseases based on their age, sex, blood pressure and otherwise healthy condition without chronic medication. They were interviewed semistructurally by a psychiatrist who was unaware of their blood pressure status. Eleven hypertensives and five normotensives (p less than 0.05) had experienced considerable traumas in childhood, e.g. death of a parent, psychotic parent, separation from one or both parents, or beating by an alcoholic father. The hypertensives had fewer siblings and fewer sons than the normotensives (p less than 0.05). The normotensives were better educated; 12 had finished at least 12 yr in school as opposed to one hypertensive (p less than 0.01). The normotensives' parents (p less than 0.05) and spouses (p less than 0.001) were better educated than the hypertensives'. The normotensives' yearly income was higher (p less than 0.05). The hypertensives showed more Type A behaviour patterns (p less than 0.05) and lower Spielberger State Curiosity (p less than 0.05). Although the groups were small, they were rigorously characterized. These results therefore suggest that middle-aged men with essential hypertension have more childhood traumas and lower educational and income levels and that these social characteristics are associated with Type A behaviour patterns. The study favours a psychosocial understanding of the pathogenesis of essential hypertension.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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