Objectives. To identify the associations between two personality variables (alexithymia, negative affect), social support, awareness of myocardial infarction, and the severity of post-traumatic stress symptoms.
Design. A cross sectional design was adopted with simultaneous measures of both dependent and independent variables.
Method. A random sample of 69 patients who had an MI between 6 and 12 months previously were sent postal questionnaires measuring alexithymia, negative affect, social support, awareness of myocardial infarction, the severity of post-traumatic stress symptoms and a number of demographic details.
Results. Forty-four individuals completed and returned all the questionnaires. A 10 prevalence of post-traumatic stress symptoms was found. Regression analyses were conducted to identify independent associates of the dependent variables with and without the inclusion of the measure of negative affect. Alexithymia, age, social support and awareness at the time of having a myocardial infarction, were each strongly predictive of one or all measures of symptoms.
Conclusions. Evidence supporting the impact of each of the variables on the course of post-traumatic stress disorder was supported in a population of myocardial infarction patients. If these variables were found predictive in a longitudinal study, they would indicate possible risk factors for post-traumatic stress disorder in this population.