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Ital J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 1997 Oct;29(5):395-8.

Familial and psychological risk factors of ulcerative colitis.

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1st Department of Surgery, University of Rome La Sapienza, Italy.



The aetiology of ulcerative colitis is still unknown. Several theories have been proposed taking into account psychological influences.


The present study was undertaken to test the hypothesis of a relationship between certain individual psychological patterns, stress, some familial variables, and ulcerative colitis.


A series of 122 patients with ulcerative colitis and a matched hospital control population were independently studied by a team of physicians and a team of psychologists.


State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (Form Y) and Sacks' sentence completion tests were submitted to all subjects in both populations.


Data showed significantly higher anxiety trait and state in ulcerative colitis patients, whilst 84% of ulcerative colitis patients showed a variety of obsessional traits and an affectivity state characterized by introversion and emotional immaturity. A link was found with regard to relationship with mother, to the condition of single children in the male ulcerative colitis population (41% vs 18% controls), and to last born daughters in the female ulcerative colitis group (47.5% vs 27.9% controls). In addition, a previous stressful life event within the 12-month period prior to the investigation was found in 44.3% of ulcerative colitis patients and in 10.7% of controls.


Psychological disturbances and familial condition are proposed as risk factors, if not actual aetiological variables of ulcerative colitis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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