Life Stress, Moderator Variables And The Promotion And Persistence Of Atypical Growth Of The Human Cervix

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Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




The present study was an investigation of the association between negative life events, several moderator variables, and the promotion and persistence of atypical growth of the human cervix. Seventy-five subjects were included in this study comprising patients at an out-patient colposcopy clinic and in-patient gynecology ward. The out-patients were being examined as part of the standard protocol for the work-up of an abnormal pap smear while the in-patients were awaiting a diagnostic cone biopsy, another part of the protocol for abnormal pap smears which is designed to rule out invasive cervical cancer. Both subjects and experimenter were unaware of the subject's diagnosis at the time of data collection. After data were collected the subjects were assigned to diagnostic groups based upon pathology reports and colposcopic impression. Subjects who received diagnoses of advanced atypical growth (moderate or severe dysplasia) were followed after treatment and their diagnosis at 3-month and 6-month intervals was noted for any sign of relapse of atypia which could be clinically considered as persistence.Based on the analysis of negative life events and the promotion of cervical atypia, it was possible to identify susceptible and resilient subgroups who showed positive and negative life event-atypia correlations, respectively. When the life stress variable was examined in terms of controllability, predictability, and duration, a more refined picture of the susceptible and resilient subgroups emerged. Though the nature of these subgroups varied slightly according to the specific life stress dimension measured, it was possible to locate a common set of themes in each. The susceptible subgroup was characterized by a passive, pessimistic, conforming, inhibited, somatically anxious, and socially alienated type while the resilient subgroup comprised individuals who were confident, active, optimistic, sociable, and socially supported. Several psychoimmunological models were generated to explain these findings and suggestions for future studies to test these models were put forth. Results support the notion that the promotion of atypical cervical growth may be mediated by specific dimensions of stressful life events and the internal and external resources which the affected individual employs in coping with that stress.


Psychology, Clinical

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