Communication Behaviors That Affect Blood Pressure: An A-B-A-B Analysis of Marital Interaction

Craig K. Ewart, Kent F. Burnett, C. Barr Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Although blood pressure levels are known to vary with changes in the social environment, interpersonal behaviors that cause this have not been specified. An A-B-A-B experimental design was used to examine the effect of marital communication on pressor responses of two hypertensive males. In each experimental phase, subjects and their wives discussed marital problems of equivalent severity while the husband's blood pressure and heart rate were measured. During the baseline phases (Weeks 1 and 3) couples discussed problems in their 'usual' way. During treatment (Weeks 2 and 4) they used communication methods designed to facilitate problem solving. Communication behaviors were rated facilitative, disruptive, or neutral for each phase. In both subjects, blood pressure increments were inversely related to the frequency of disruptive responses. There was no apparent relationship between heart rate and communication patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)331-344
Number of pages14
JournalBehavior Modification
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1983

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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