The Role of Attachment in the Development of Cardiovascular Disease


Massoud, Mariam C. (2017). The Role of Attachment in the Development of Cardiovascular Disease.


This paper aims to address the gap in the literature concerning means of avoiding harmful behaviors as a consequence of negative coping, contributing the development of Cardiovascular Disease (CVD). As the number one cause of death in the United States, CVD accounts for over $800 billion in health care costs. The role of attachment in the development of CVD is evaluated through measuring indirect and direct effects as well as through risk factors identified by the American Heart Association. Risk factors such as high blood pressure, high blood glucose, and unhealthy body mass index (BMI) are all demonstrated to be affected by behaviors associated with negative coping. Through attachment theory, behaviors such as emotional eating, sedentary lifestyle and tobacco use are explored as contributors of risk factors and CVD. Utilizing the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health dataset (ADD Health), a nationally representative sample is evaluated by path analysis. Data were evaluated across three waves of data, from predictors experienced in adolescence (attachment, physical activity, tobacco use) to biomarker data (blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose) to a Wave III a diagnosis of CVD in adulthood. The mediating effects of gender and race are included in the analyses. The results indicated significant relationships between predictors at Wave I and Wave III and significant relationships between predictors at Wave I and Wave IV. Gender and race were found to mediate the relationship between several predictors across groups. Notably, attachment was found to have a direct effect on CVD in both females and participants of minority race. These results provide direction for future research to evaluate the role of attachment in other chronic illnesses as well as move toward developing or validating therapeutic interventions. For clinicians, these results validate the exploration of systemic relationships and including a focus on secure attachment as a means to strengthen coping skills and in turn, influence physical health.


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Massoud, Mariam C.

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Texas Tech University

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