People who experience a lot of negative emotions and do not express these experience more health problems, says Dutch researcher Aline Pelle. She discovered that heart failure patients with a negative outlook reported their complaints to a physician or nurse far less often. The personality of the partner can also exert a considerable influence on these patients.
Aline Pelle investigated patients with a so-called type D personality. These people experience a lot of negative emotions and do not express these for fear of being rejected by others. It was already known that such a type of personality in heart failure patients is associated with anxiety and depression and a reduced state of health. However, Aline Pelle also described which processes might contribute to this.
Many of the patients with a negative outlook were found not to contact the physician or specialist nurse in the event of heart failure symptoms. As a result of this they were six times more likely to experience a worse state of health than non-type D heart failure patients.
Pelle established that not just the patient's personality but also that of the partner had a significant effect on the patient's mood. In particular, the combination within the couple proved to be particularly important. Type D patients with a non-type D partner reported the lowest marriage quality, even lower than that of type D patients with a partner with just as negative an outlook.
Although a type D personality is associated with a range of negative health outcomes, Pelle's results did not demonstrate a correlation with an increased risk of dying from heart failure. This observation refutes the results from a previous study.
Aline Pelle's research was part of Johan Denollet's Vici project. He received a Vici grant from NWO's Innovational Research Incentives Scheme in 2004.
Materials provided by NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research). Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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