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To what extent does research support the link between stress & illness

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Introduction

To what extent does research support a link between stress & illness? (12 marks). There is proven to be correlation between stress & illness, however its questionable how far stress causes illness or whether illness can cause stress. It is thought that the cardiovascular system refers to the heart & the circulatory system (blood). Stress can cause problems within this system; Hypertension (high blood pressure), Coronary heart disease which is causes by atherosclerosis, & Stroke. Supporting a link between stress & illness, Kiecolt-Glaser et al (1995), studied the slowing of wound healing in relation to psychological stress (especially how stress damages the immune system). He took 26 participants (recruited from a newspaper advertisement) in a field experiment, all were given a small cut into their arms, & participants were given a 10-item perceived stress scale & asked to state how stressed they felt. ...read more.

Middle

The time take for the wound to heal was significantly longer for carers (48.7 days) compared to the control group (39.3 days) & also were significantly a larger average size. Another researcher who found a supportive link between stress & illness was Russek (1962), who aimed to find a link between work-related stress & heart disease. He tested Medical professionals & labelled them as high-stress or low-stress according to their role. GPs (high-stress) had the greatest rate of heart disease (11.9%) & dermatologists (low-stress) had the least heart disease (3.2%). This showed that there is a link between heart disease & stress within a job. However the dermatologists may have a higher stress job than predicted & also professional lives may not be the only cause of stress e.g. ...read more.

Conclusion

Williams (2000) investigated the link between anger & heart disease. He asked 13,000 participants without a heart condition to fill out a questionnaire to measure their anger. Six years later 256 of participants had had a heart attack. Participants with the highest anger rating made up 73% of this number, meaning that participants with high anger ratings were 2.7 times more likely to have a heart attack than those with a low anger rating. There is however a question of how reliable & accurate this questionnaire is, can it really tell the anger of a person? Also anger can't be rated as a general characteristic as people may have been feeling more angry when filling out the questionnaire than others, but are normally very un-angry. ?? ?? ?? ?? Charlotte Higgins ...read more.

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The essay provides some relevant research and evaluation with more focus on evidence for stress and illness having a link. There is a need for a conclusion especially given the title of the question. - 'to what extent'? If stress is not the whole reason for illness then what else might there be contributing to it? Remember to proofread.

Marked by teacher Stephanie Porras 21/03/2013

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