Researcher: Anger Common Before Injury

Thursday, February 2nd 2006, 9:50 am
By: News On 6

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) _ Guys, watch out the next time anger threatens to overtake common sense. You could wind up in the hospital. That's the conclusion of a University of Missouri-Columbia researcher who found that anger increased the risk of injury, especially for men, after interviewing more than 2,400 emergency-room patients at three Missouri hospitals.

The study, published Tuesday in the Annals of Family Medicine journal, found that people who described themselves as feeling ``hostile'' before getting hurt faced twice the risk of injury. And compared to women, men were more likely to injure themselves when angry.

``When we men start to get angry, maybe we need to take a step back,'' said Dan Vinson, a professor of family and community medicine and the study's primary author.

Surprisingly, Vinson said he found no statistical connection between self-descriptions of anger and traffic accidents _ a finding that suggests road rage may be more of an internal state of mind rather than an outward behavior with violent consequences.

Previous studies exploring the links between anger and injury had a more limited focus, Vinson said.

``I thought it was a known fact that anger increases injury risk,'' said Vinson, whose primary research interest is the relation between alcohol use and injury. ``But when researchers look at people in the real world, studies are conflicting.''

The Missouri study asked emergency room patients to describe their state of mind both immediately before and 24 hours before the injury.

Patients were asked to what extent they felt irritable, angry and hostile, with responses organized on a 5-point scale from ``not at all'' to ``extremely.''

Those 2,446 patients were compared to 1,533 random community residents interviewed by phone. The control group's overall level of anger also came as a surprise to Vinson.

One-third reported some degree of irritability, with 11.8 percent reporting feeling angry and 8 percent claiming downright hostility.

``We live in a very angry society,'' said Vinson.

The study was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the Opal Lewis Fund for alcohol research, an endowment established by a University of Missouri donor.