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Anger response styles and cardiovascular health Hogan, Brenda E.

Abstract

The exact nature of the anger - cardiovascular health relationship and its mechanisms remain obscure, partly due to controversy over the conceptualization and measurement of anger. Reliance on an oversimplified model of anger may have hindered comprehensive understanding of its pathogenic effects. Using a multi-dimensional anger response measure (Behavioural Anger Response Questionnaire; BARQ) that taps six independent anger response styles (Aggression, Assertion, Social Support Seeking, Diffusion, Avoidance, and Rumination) and data from three samples of varying cardiovascular health status [healthy participants, hypertensive, and coronary heart disease (CHD) patients], the relation of anger coping styles to resting blood pressure (BP), ambulatory BP, BP reactivity and recovery was investigated. Linear, curvilinear, and interactive relationships were tested, controlling for traditional risk factors and level of hostility. Examination of linear effects revealed inconsistent associations between anger response styles and BP. The strongest effects were for Avoidance and Rumination; in the women, Avoidance was linked with higher BP levels, and in the men, Rumination was associated with lower BP levels. Examination of curvilinear relationships revealed surprising results. The clearest pattern was observed for Aggression; increasingly higher levels of Aggression were associated with higher BP levels, but this association reversed for those with the highest levels of Aggression. The moderating effect of Rumination on the relationship between the other anger response styles and BP was also examined. Rumination had a deleterious influence on the relationship between Avoidance and Assertion and resting and ambulatory BP levels. The moderating influence of Rumination on Social Support Seeking varied between the genders. Anger response styles also predicted BP reactivity and recovery. Overall, the results suggest that a multi-dimensional model of anger responding is valuable and that anger response styles are related to BP variables in complex ways.

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