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October 5, 1979

A Field Study of the Stress Response Syndrome: Young Women After Hysterectomy

Author Affiliations

From the Langley Porter Institute, University of California, San Francisco.

JAMA. 1979;242(14):1499-1503. doi:10.1001/jama.1979.03300140015015

The symptom pattern previously delineated as the stress response syndrome in a mental health setting was hypothesized to be useful in conceptualizing reactions to a traumatic event in a nonpsychiatric patient population. The experience of loss resulting from nonelective hysterectomy for benign disease in women of childbearing age was selected as a relevant field study model. Twenty-eight women were studied one year after hysterectomy, using extensive psychological interviewing by women clinicians and experiential rating scales. Twelve subjects had a mild stress response syndrome, and five subjects had a serious level of intrusive and avoidant symptoms. Increasing severity of response was associated with persisting child-wish, deterioration in sexual functioning, and change in self-concept. Women who did well postoperatively generally had no future wish for children and were actively committed to achievement outside of the home.

(JAMA 242:1499-1503, 1979)