Defensive coping and blood pressure reactivity in medical patients

Stephen Warrenburg, Jacob Levine, Gary E. Schwartz, Alan F. Fontana, Robert D. Kerns, Richard Delaney, Richard Mattson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Two defensive coping styles, denial of illness and repressive coping, were studied in two groups of medical patients whose blood pressure (BP) was measured during a stress interview. Denial of illness was measured using the Levine Denial of Illness Scale (LDIS), and repressive coping was measured using a combination of the Marlowe-Crowne (MC) Social Desirability Scale and the SCL-90R anxiety subscale (ANX). Consistent with our prior research indicating that LDIS was associated with adaptive outcomes in the short run, high deniers manifested reduced systolic BP reactivity compared to low deniers. Although not related to repressive coping, systolic BP reactivity was correlated positively with MC and ANX separately. The results demonstrate that LDIS and MC measure different types of defensive coping. Current theories of the MC scale suggest two possible interpretations of the MC findings, one that focuses on avoidant coping and the second on attentional coping in high MC scorers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)407-424
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1989


  • Marlowe-Crowne
  • blood pressure
  • cardiac
  • coping
  • defensiveness
  • denial

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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