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Stress, Illness Behavior, and the Sick Role

David Mechanic and Edmund H. Volkart
American Sociological Review
Vol. 26, No. 1 (Feb., 1961), pp. 51-58
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2090512
Page Count: 8
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Stress, Illness Behavior, and the Sick Role
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Abstract

Previous research has indicated a direct relationship between stress and "illness in general," as measured by frequency of medical visits and diagnoses. Parsons, however, has suggested that the attractiveness of the "social role of the sick person" may also motivate persons to seek medical care. The concept of "illness behavior" is introduced and the relative effects of stress and the tendency to adopt the sick role upon frequency of medical visits made by 614 male freshmen are investigated. Results indicate that the tendency to adopt the sick role is the more powerful variable. The significance of this social-psychological variable is discussed in relation to future etiological studies of stress and illness.

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