Need help finding source of quote that 90% of disease is stress-related

Note: I first published this post five years ago, in 2011. Be sure to read Tom Beckman’s comments and click the link if you’re looking for the source of the quote. Thanks so much to Tom, who is the associate director of the Health Professionals Program at the HeartMath Institute, a great program for stress reduction, for this persevering research!

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I’ve heard this statistic for several years. I’ve seen various forms of it in print, too, often attributed to the Centers for Disease Control but sometimes to the American Medical Association.

I’ve searched the CDC and AMA websites but haven’t found it.

I also searched Snopes.com, but it doesn’t include it.

Because there are variations (some say doctor visits, and the numbers range between 60 and 99 percent), it’s been difficult trying to hunt down the source of the quote.

That’s why I’m posting this. If any readers can shed some light on this, I would sure appreciate hearing from you. I’d love to have verification of the actual original quote and the date it was first published.

I’d like to use the quote with integrity.

Also — if this is close to true, is it possible that we’ve been chasing the rabbit down the wrong hole? That we’ve been addressing symptoms and not the cause?

11 thoughts on “Need help finding source of quote that 90% of disease is stress-related

  1. This publication — http://www.healthadvocate.com/downloads/webinars/stress-workplace.pdf — contains this quote: “And 60 to 90 percent of doctor visits are attributed to stress-related illnesses and symptoms.” Health Advocate attributes that quote to two sources: 1) Humana. “Combat Stress at Work to Promote Health.” Focus. Apr. 2009. . http://www.dmaonline.org/Publications/articles/2005_02_039StressChange.pdf.
    2) Benson, Herbert, M. D. “Role of the Mind in Physical Healing and Health.” Testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives. Nov. 1997. (published by American Psychological Association.) .

    These things have been reposted on the CDC web site but this is as close I could come to the original source(s).

  2. I’ve been researching the same statistic. Maddening. Here is one more source, but not the direct research. This author cites CDC and “Occupational Health and Safety news and the National Council on compensation of insurance”

    Razali, S.M. (2008). Life Event, Stress and Illness. Malays J. Med. Sci. 15(4): 9-18.

    • Awesome. Thank you SO MUCH for this. The 1971 article speaks of data from 25 years previously. That would be 1946. Some statement about the percentage of doctor visits related to stress has been kicking around for 70 years! Now, we have so many tools to help with stress, but the mainstream medical world still seems deeply entrenched in not addressing it.

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