Interactive model of women’s stressors, personality traits and health problems
Theories have linked various stressors with health problems, and some studies have identified personality traits that enhance health. However, few studies have examined the interaction among women’s stressors, personality traits and their health. This retrospective study (1996–1997) analysed the effects of women’s major stressors and personality traits on symptoms of health problems, and developed a model of women’s health based on the interaction among these factors. A convenience sample of 300 women aged between 18 and 66 years completed a questionnaire that measured three types of stressors, eight personality traits and 40 symptoms of health problems. Principle components and factor analyses identified the best items to measure the stressors, traits and problems. New reduced data subsets were constructed for classification tree analyses to identify the effects of stressors and personality traits on women’s health. Women with medium or high stressors and low assertiveness, low hardiness, or the inability to express their feelings, were more likely to report physical symptoms than women who were stronger in these personality traits. Also, women with medium or high stressors and low to medium trust or love relationships were very likely to report high emotional symptoms, as were women with high trust or love, who did not express their feelings. An interactive model of women’s health was supported. The amount of women’s stressors and their personality traits may increase or diminish their stress response and affect their health. Nurses can identify women with high stressors and unhealthy personality traits that increase their risk for stress-related illnesses, and assist these women to modify their stressors or personality traits to enhance their health.