The Life Events Inventory as a predictor for injury and illness – The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale – take the test below
Stress: The link between life changes and illness & injury
It may seem almost blatantly obvious that major life changes contribute to stress but it may not be as obvious that multiple major life changes within one year correlate with a higher risk of injury or illness.
We too often take it for granted that life changes alter a person’s social roles and relationships, such as marriage, divorce, job change, serious illness, or the death of a loved one, and thus, they increase a person’s susceptibility to stress, and in turn contribute if not directly cause a host of physical, mental and emotional ailments and illnesses. The ripples of stress will often last for a year or even longer.
In 1967, psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe examined the medical records of over 5,000 medical patients as a way to determine whether stressful events might cause illnesses. Patients were asked to tally a list of 43 life events based on a relative score. A positive correlation of 0.118 was found between their life events and their illnesses. Their results were published as the Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS) – now known as the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale. Rahe went on to test the validity of their Stress Scale with a group of 2,500 US sailors as well as other groups of different populations within the United States (with African, Hispanic and White American groups.) All of the results support the links between stress and illness.
Below is the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, a list of forty-three stressful events that are believed to contribute to illness. It can also be viewed as a life events inventory. When completing the inventory, check the boxes based on events that occurred within the past twelve months.
Life Crisis Units
Death of spouse
Death of close family member
Personal injury or illness
Fired at work
Change in health of a family member
Gain of new family member
Change in financial state
Death of close friend
Change to different line of work
Change in number of arguments with
Mortgage over $100,000
Foreclosure of mortgage or loan
Change in responsibilities at work
Son or daughter leaving home
Trouble with in-laws
Outstanding personal achievement
Wife begins or stops work
Begin or end school
Change in living conditions
Revision in personal habits
Trouble with boss
Change in work hours or conditions
Change in residence
Change in schools
Change in recreation
Change in church activities
Change in social activities
Mortgage or loan less than $30,000
Change in sleeping habits
Change in number of family get-togethers
Change in eating habits
Minor violations of the law
Holmes and Rahe found that scores of:
- 150 – 199 points increase your likelihood of illness by 40%
- 200 – 299 points increase your likelihood of illness by 50%
- 300 and above increase your likelihood of illness by 80%
When assessing the full implications of the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, it is also important to take into account other factors such as your personality, temperament, how you react to change, the support system you have in place and the meaning of each life change. For example, while a divorce is stressful, it might be preferable to continuing to live in an abusive or unhappy marriage and as such, the divorce could quickly result in a lowering of stress.
Dr. Steve Burns is a graduate of U.C.L.A. Medical School and a practicing physician since 1974. Dr. Burns has identified what he terms as the common ‘weak links’ in the physical body, and the symptoms of their malfunction:
- Brain OVERSTRESS
Fatigue, aches and pains, crying spells, depression, anxiety attacks, sleep disturbance
- Gastrointestinal Tract
Ulcer, cramps and diarrhea, colitis, irritable bowel
- Glandular System
Thyroid gland malfunction
High blood pressure, heart attack, abnormal heart beat, stroke
Itchy skin rashes
- Immune System
Decreased resistance to infections and neoplasm
You can also take the Stress Test – a powerful way of determining if you have a problem and helping you to identify the symptoms of stress.
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