Advanced Abnormal Psychology

pp 419-442

Individual Factors Influencing Medical Conditions

  • Kristine L. BradyAffiliated withCalifornia School of Professional Psychology
  • , Patricia L. FieroAffiliated withMedical University of South Carolina

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This chapter is concerned with actual medical conditions that are significantly influenced by psychological, behavioral, and/or environmental factors. Psychological factors that contribute to medical conditions include personality variables such as negative stress appraisal styles or excessive worrying. Contributing maladaptive behaviors or coping strategies can include smoking, overeating, or working excessively. Environmental factors (e.g., job stress and divorce) are typically unrelated to individuals, yet can interact with their physiology, behaviors, and personality type. Medical conditions that are mediated by individual and environmental factors include (but are not limited to) cardiovascular disorders, gastritis, headache, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, cancer, diabetes, and skin problems. Unlike somatoform disorders for which no physical cause can be detected, these disorders present themselves as real medical problems which have been caused or exacerbated by individual and environmental factors.