The association of demographic characteristics, life event stress, social support and personality with depression, psychosomatic disorders and alcohol use
Vulcano, Brent A.
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The present study examined the relationship between life event stress, illness and alcohol use as a function of one's social support level and personality, while taking into account the "contamination" of past life event research and the potential differential response to life event stress (i.e., depression, psychosomatic disorders and alcohol use). Three hundred and three university undergraduate students voluntarily completed an extensive questionnaire. In addition to demographics and life event stress, predictor variables measured were: social support, including loneliness; anxiety, rationality, and self concept. Outcome measures included depression, psychosomatic disorders, and alcohol use. According to the study results, life event stress was observed to be associated with mental and physical illness but was found to be unrelated to alcohol use. The "contaminated" events seemed to account for the stress-illness relationship. Uncontaminated life stressors did not interact with social support or personality variables to predict any of the outcome measures. Further, according to canonical correlation analysis, the predictor canonical variables related similarly, not differentially, to the outcome canonical variables. Life event stress did not seem to predict different outcomes among different people. It was concluded that little, if any, relationship exists between life stress and mental or physical illness, nor does this study provide support for a relationship between life event stress and alcohol use. These findings were suggested to be as a result of methodological problems. In the future, there is a need to reconceptualize stress and measure it differently, including utilizing longitudinal designs.