Trait anger but not anxiety predicts incident type 2 diabetes: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA)

Sherley Abraham, Nina G. Shah, Ana Diez Roux, Felicia Hill-Briggs, Teresa Seeman, Moyses Szklo, Pamela J. Schreiner, Sherita Hill Golden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Objective: Prior studies have shown a bidirectional association between depression and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM); however, the prospective associations of anger and anxiety with T2DM have not been established. We hypothesized that trait anger and anxiety would predict incident T2DM, independently of depressive symptoms. Research design and methods: In the Multi-ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), we prospectively examined the association of trait anger and trait anxiety (assessed via the Spielberger Trait Anger and Anxiety Scales, respectively) with incident T2DM over 11.4 years in 5598 White, Black, Hispanic, and Chinese participants (53.2% women, mean age 61.6 years) at baseline without prevalent T2DM or cardiovascular disease. We used Cox proportional hazards models to calculate the hazard ratios (HR) of incident T2DM by previously defined anger category (low, moderate, high), and anxiety quartile, as there were no previously defined categories. Results: High total trait anger was associated with incident T2DM (HR 1.50; 95% CI 1.08-2.07) relative to low total trait anger. The association was attenuated following adjustment for waist circumference (HR 1.32; 95% CI 0.94-1.86). Higher anger reaction was also associated with incident T2DM (HR. = 1.07; 95% CI 1.03-1.11) that remained significant after adjusting for potential confounders/explanatory factors. In contrast, trait anxiety did not predict incident T2DM. Conclusions: High total trait anger and anger reaction are potential modifiable risk factors for T2DM. Further research is needed to explore the mechanisms of the anger-diabetes relationship and to develop preventive interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-113
Number of pages9
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Grants: MESA was supported by contracts NO1-HC-95159 through NO1-HC-95165 and NO1-HC-95169 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute . The authors thank the other investigators, the staff, and the participants of the MESA study for their valuable contributions. A full list of participating MESA investigators and institutions can be found at . Ms. Shah is supported by the NIDDK Diabetes Research Center ( P30DK079637 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Diabetes


Dive into the research topics of 'Trait anger but not anxiety predicts incident type 2 diabetes: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this