A pilot study on couple relationships and cardiac disease: The role of alexithymia and attachment in the course of myocardial infarction

Michela Di Trani, Cinzia Di Monte, Alessia Renzi, Paul S. Greenman, Federica Barbieri, Francesco Dentale, Valérie Beaudoin, Luigi Solano

Abstract


The aim of this study was to explore the links between alexithymia, romantic attachment in couples and the clinical course of myocardial infarction (MI). Thirty couples in which the male partner had experienced an MI participated. Both partners filled out the 20-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20) and the Experience in Close Relationship-Revised form (ECR-R); in addition, medical data (e.g., blood
pressure, cholesterol) pertaining to the male patients were collected from their medical records, six months after the initial data collection point.
Analysis showed significant associations between the psychological characteristics of partners and patients and several medical follow-up outcomes in patients. Specifically, partners’ alexithymia levels (total and factor scores) and avoidant attachment scores were related to several health variables in patients, even when partialling out the effects of patients’ own psychological attributes. These findings suggest that their partners’ ability to recognise and integrate their emotional states may be relevant to patients’ disease management. Multidisciplinary treatments, including psychological interventions for couples, could be introduced to encourage the appropriate involvement of partners in patients’ post-MI care.


Keywords


myocardial infarction; alexithymia; attachment; couple

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Copyright (c) 2020 Michela Di Trani, Cinzia Di Monte, Alessia Renzi, Paul S. Greenman, Federica Barbieri, Francesco Dentale, Valérie Beaudoin, Luigi Solano

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