Rahe, Mahan and Arthur

  • Created by: Sam
  • Created on: 09-05-14 13:58

Rahe, Mahan and Arthur- Context+ Aims

  • Selye's GAS showed stress can be related to physical illnesses.
  • Hawkins et al 1957- Dr Holmes showed that TB patients has 'stressfull occurences' happen to them around 2 years before their admission, considerbaly less than the control group of non TB.
  • 1960s, Dr Rahe worked with Dr Holmes to make a measure of stressful life changes- Schedule of recent experiences (SRE) Analysed case histories 5000 patients, list of 43 life events, rated stressfullness of each experience by asking 400 people to score them. Scores averaged to make life change units. LCU. 
  • It's unethical to get people to become stressed to measure their health, so reseachers conducted retrospective studies , assesed LCU scores of people who were already ill and compared them to those who were not ill. 
  • Previous research only included those who were ill so not generalisable. 


Rahe, Mahan, and Arthur aimed to conduct a preospective study using a normal poplulation to investigate if there's a relationship between life event/ changes and illness. 

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Rahe, Mahan and Arthur- Procedur

  • Partcipants were 2664 US male naval and marine personell serving on 3 navy cruisers.
  • Mean age for particpants was around 22.3 years, they came from a range of backgrounds,from education, rank, experience.
  • Double blind test- neither te navy workers or the medical departments on the ship were aware of the aims of the project. 
  • Proir to tour of duty participants were asked to fill in military version of SRE. Self administered questionnaire, changes regarding social, health, religious, econominc experiences. 
  • Each sailer completed a SRE every 6 months over a period of 2 years, prior to 6-8 mont tour of duty. 
  • As each ship returned from overseas, a research physician went onboard to review sailors health records. Each ship had a medical facility to record minor health changes of sailors.
  • Increases reliability, sick call visits that were thought to be fake were left from experiment.
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Rahe, Mahan and Arthur- Findings

  • No significant correlation between the 2 year period prior to the cruise and cruise period illness. 
  • Was a significant positive correlation of 0.118 between the six month period prior the cruise and the cruise period illness. Corellation was singinificant at a probability level of 1%
  • Relationship was strongest for cruiser 1 and 3. 

Crew members were divided in to 10 groups(deciles) according to tLCUs. 

  • Decile 1:10% of the ship's crew with lowest tLCU scores. So on....
  • Lowest illness amount was decile 1 and 2 and highest illness group was decile 9 and 10. 
  • The decile groups produced a uneven distrubution. The range of tLCUs in decile 1-6 was 1-194, whereas the range of tLCUs in deciles 7-10 was 195-1000. 
  • The scored we regrouped into ranges 0-99 100-199 ..... The final 4 ranges were grouped together as less than 3% of the men fell into this catogory. 
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Rahe, Mahan and Arthur- Conclusions

The results support the notion of a linear relationhip between stress and illness.

The findings are consistent with other perspective and retrospective studies.

The correlation may be small but: 

  • the illness experienced by the men were usually minor. 
  • their pre-cruise life changes were often few and of low significance.

This makes it more difficult to detect a relationship betwenn tLCUs and illness. 

Cruise 2 had the most difficult cruise out of all the ships, this may explain why the link between the LCUs and illness was not as clear for the ship. As in stressful envrionments, life chnages may have less of an effect on ther person. 

The ink worked better with older particpants and with married men, in the group of single young sailors. 

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Rahe, Mahan and Arthur- Methodology+ Alternative E

  • D- Questionnaires- large sample can be accessed,cost effective, replicable, quantative data, lacks validuty, snapshot, lying,social desirability. 
  • E- Deception, lacks informed consent, right to withdraw, confedentiality. 
  • R- Stress measured using the SRE, scale my lack reliability, catogories are not clear , difficult to see what count as stress. Participant had to recall past events and could not remember. 
  • V- Problems with the SRE, doesn't distinguish between good and bad stressors, some people may not experience any of the life changes especially with the young age. 
  • S- Opportunity sample, only men in sample, people in the navy may be more resilient to stress. 
  • Alternative Evidence: 
  • Delongis et al 1988- found significant postive correlation of .59 between hassles and next day health problems, finding is stronger, suggest hassle stress more powerful than life change stress. CHALLENGES
  • Rubin et al 1972 conducted further study using SRE to naval aviators in Vietnam, same link between stress and illness. SUPPORTS
  • Cohen et al 1991 assesed participant's LCUs and gave them nasal drops containing the common cold , participant with higher LCU were more likely to get ill. 
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