Covariation of Psychosocial Characteristics Associated With Cardiovascular Disease: Genetic and Environmental Influences
Objective: Three psychosocial characteristics associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD)-depression, hostility, and social support-tend to correlate with one another. However, the causes of each characteristic and why they tend to co-occur are not completely understood. Therefore, the current study used a twin design to examine the relative contributions of genetic and environmental influences to the variation and covariation of these three psychosocial characteristics. Methods: The sources
... variation and covariation among the Beck Depression Inventory, the Cook-Medley Hostility Scale, and the Interpersonal Support Evaluation List were examined in a young adult community sample of 157 monozygotic and 75 dizygotic twin pairs. Results: Phenotypic confirmatory factor analysis indicated that a single latent factor could account for their moderate intercorrelations. Twin analyses indicated that the Beck Depression Inventory and Interpersonal Support Evaluation List were each influenced by genetic and nonshared environmental factors, whereas the Cook-Medley Hostility Scale was influenced by familial (genetic and/or shared environmental) and nonshared environmental factors. Bivariate associations between these scales were largely determined by common genetic effects and, to a lesser degree, common nonshared environmental effects. Covariation among the three scales could be explained by a single common genetic factor and a common nonshared environmental factor. Environmental factors shared within families did not contribute to covariation among the psychosocial characteristics. Conclusions: The results challenge the conventional approach of examining these psychosocial variables as independent risk factors for cardiovascular disease and argue for the importance of investigating specific causes for their covariation.