Anger has been associated with everything from high blood pressure to road rage. Now, a new study links anger in men to injuries.
Researchers who interviewed emergency room patients found that men were likely to report being angry at the time of their injuries.
Although the findings may seem obvious, previous research into anger has found contradictory results, says study coauthor Dr. Daniel C. Vinson, a professor of family medicine at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Vinson and a colleague surveyed 2,517 emergency room patients in Missouri about their states of mind before they were injured. The researchers also randomly surveyed 1,856 uninjured Missouri residents about their anger levels during a regular day.
Nearly 33% of the injured people surveyed said they were irritable just before being injured; 18% said they were angry, and 13.2% described themselves as hostile.
Some of these numbers were similar to the anger assessments made by the uninjured people. However, the injured people-especially men and those who were injured by another person-were more likely to express greater anger, the study authors report.
"The association between anger and [self-] injury was much stronger in men than in women," according to Vinson. "Men may get more angry, may act on their anger or they may get distracted by their anger."
Surprisingly, the researchers did not find a link between anger and car accidents.
Although it's impossible to know how many of the injuries in this study were directly caused by anger, one anger specialist says the findings are important.
"They add significantly to our growing body of work that emotional stress-whether it be anger or grief or fear-has a profound effect on the body," says Dr. Hunter Champion, an assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and its Heart Institute.
"When one begins to feel angry in some sort of situation, whether in interpersonal relationships or just because of what's going on in your own mind, it's wise to take a step back and move out of the situation that's escalating," Vinson advises. "Slow down and back off so you might be able to avoid injury."