Precursors of premature disease and death: habits of nervous tension

Johns Hopkins Med J. 1980 Oct;147(4):137-45.


Patterns of habits of nervous tension (HNT) recorded by medical students who later developed cancer, coronary occlusion, hypertension, or mental illness, or who committed suicide, were compared with those of students who remained healthy 15 to 30 years later. Data came from the 25-item HNT Questionnaire previously reported. Unpaired t tests and two-group discriminant function analyses were the chief statistical methods used. Compared with those of the healthy group, the overall HNT patterns were significantly different for the cancer, coronary occlusion, mental illness and suicide groups. The overall pattern for the hypertension group did not reach significance. It therefore appears that youthful reactions to stress as self-reported in a checklist of habits of nervous tension reflect individual psychobiological differences that are linked with future health or disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / psychology
  • Disease / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality*
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychology
  • Stress, Psychological*
  • Suicide / psychology