John Calvin Barefoot
Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Psychosocial factors such as hostility, depression, social isolation, and social status have been shown to play an important role in health, especially cardiovascular health. My research is devoted to the documentation of these effects and the biological mechanisms involved. Epidemiologic methods have been used to examine the roles of psychosocial factors in the development of cardiovascular disease and other health outcomes. The importance of psychosocial factors for the prognosis of pateints with existing coronary artery disease has been examined in a sample of 1500 patients who were assessed between 1974 and 1980 and who have been followed since then. Laboratory studies have evaluated the cardiovascular responses to the induction of emotion in volunteers with different personality profiles. Special attention has been given to the process of psychological assessment, including the refinement of existing questionnaire measures and the development of observational methods for the assessment of hostility from behavior.
Much of the work has investigated the adverse health consequences of high levels of hostility and differences in the nature of hostility across age groups. Recently, the health impact of chronic depressive affect has been an area of particular interest as well. This is being studied in a 30-year longitudinal study of older people in Denmark and in the sample of Duke cardiac patients that we have been following for 20 years. A natural extension is the investigation of the joint impact of both high hostility and high depression in individuals invarious age and socioeconomic groups.
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