Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Donald Morgenson

Advisor Role

Thesis Committee Member

Second Advisor

Josephine Naidoo

Advisor Role

Thesis Committee Member

Third Advisor

Hymie Anisman

Advisor Role

Thesis Committee Member


A study which investigated the relationships between the onset, frequency and severity of past and present illnesses, with life changes and coping mechanisms was carried out. Subjects consisted of three levels of health care: (1) symptom-free (N=88); (2) minor illness (N=72), and (3) hospital patients (N=100). Three measures were employed to test these relationships: (1) the Schedule of Recent Experience (SRE); (2) the Medical History Check-List (MHCL) and, (3) the Boston University Personality Inventory (BUPI). In addition, Seriousness of Illness Rating Scale (SIRS) mean values or severity weights were assigned to subjects’ physician diagnosed illnesses.

As expected, the amount of life change experienced by the subjects was directed related to the amount, frequency and severity of illness encountered. As well, life changes clustered around the 0-6 month period prior to illness onset for individuals who had a present illness diagnosed. The hospital patients had the highest amount of life change of all subject-groups. Subjects responses to the life events items were unrelated to the demographic variables of the SRE.

The amount of life change,s as well as the amount of self-reported MHCL illness, differed significantly between all subject-groups. Also, the passage of time (measured by three time periods) had no effect on these differences. Therefore, the LCU scoring method appears to be a valid one in predicting the level of health care attained by subjects up to two years prior to the onset of illness. In addition, the amount of illness subjects encounter prior to the onset of a present disease may be indicative of the severity and duration of the present illness.

As expected, subjects who exhibited good coping, ability and a mild to moderate amount of life changes had the least amount of self-reported illness of all groups.

Convocation Year