Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 333-349

First online:

Hiding Worries from One's Spouse: Associations Between Coping via Protective Buffering and Distress in Male Post-Myocardial Infarction Patients and Their Wives

  • Jerry SulsAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Iowa
  • , Peter GreenAffiliated withUniversity of Iowa
  • , Gail RoseAffiliated withUniversity of Iowa
  • , Patricia LounsburyAffiliated withUniversity of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics
  • , Ellen GordonAffiliated withUniversity of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics

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The relationship between protective buffering, a style of coping in which the individual hides his/her concerns from spouse, and level of distress was studied among post-myocardial infarction (MI) patients and their spouses. Forty-three male married MI survivors and their wives completed measures of psychological distress and protective buffering at 4 weeks and 6 months post-hospital discharge. At both time periods, a greater propensity for protective buffering by the patient was related to higher levels of patient distress. Protective buffering by wife was also associated with higher levels of wife distress. In addition, patient buffering at 4 weeks predicted increased patient distress at 6 months. The results suggest that male MI patients who conceal their worries from their spouses adjust more poorly over time.

coping adjustment heart attack