Objective: Attachment insecurity has been hypothesized to be a risk factor for the development of disease and chronic illness. This study was the first to investigate associations between adult attachment ratings and a wide range of health conditions.
Design: Cross-sectional data from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (N = 5645) were used.
Measures: Participants completed Hazan and Shaver's (1987) measure of adult attachment and provided reports regarding 15 health conditions.
Results: Logistic regression analyses that adjusted for demographic variables indicated that avoidant attachment ratings were positively associated with conditions defined primarily by pain (e.g., frequent or severe headaches). Anxious attachment ratings were positively associated with a wider range of health conditions, including several involving the cardiovascular system (i.e., stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure). Secure attachment ratings were unrelated to the health conditions. Additional analyses investigated whether the attachment ratings accounted for unique variance in the health conditions beyond that accounted for by lifetime histories of depressive, anxiety, and alcohol- or substance-related disorders. In these analyses, anxious attachment ratings continued to have significant positive associations with chronic pain, stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure, and ulcers.
Conclusion: The findings were generally supportive of the theory that insecure attachment is a risk factor for the development of disease and chronic illness, particularly conditions involving the cardiovascular system. Further research regarding the role of attachment in the development of specific health conditions is warranted.
PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved.