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March 1981

Quality of Life Events in Relation to Psychiatric Symptoms

Author Affiliations

From the Psychiatry and Research Service (Dr Grant and Mr Sweetwood) and the Psychology Service (Dr Gerst), Veterans Administration Medical Center, San Diego; the Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, La Jolla (Drs Grant and Gerst and Mr Sweetwood); the Psychiatry Service, Brentwood Veterans Administration Medical Center, Los Angeles (Dr Yager); and the Department of Psychiatry, University of California, Los Angeles, School of Medicine (Dr Yager).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1981;38(3):335-339. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1981.01780280103012

• This prospective study explored the relationship of life changes to psychiatric symptom changes in psychiatric outpatients (N = 196) and a comparison group of nonpatients (N = 194). Subjects completed the Schedule of Recent Experiences and a symptom checklist bimonthly for 18 months. At all reporting intervals, symptoms and events were strongly correlated. Undesirable and uncontrollable events related positively and desirable events negatively to symptoms. Among symptoms, those of a dysphoric and somatic nature were most strongly associated with event change. Psychiatric patients also reported more undesirable, more uncontrollable, and fewer desirable events than the comparison group. We conclude that the relationship of life events to symptoms depends on the specific qualities of both events and symptoms. Undesirable and uncontrollable events appear to have a direct, and desirable events an inverse, association with dysphoric and somatic symptoms.

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