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University of Central Lancashire, Preston, U.K.

Summary: Most of the literature on aphthous ulcerations assumes that stress has a causal role. However, most of the support for the psychosomatic assumption has come from the psychodynamic field. For example, Heinrich (1932) reported the case study of a woman with an obstinate ulcerative stomatitis, which, as analysis showed, was the expression of an erotic conflict. Whereas, a study by Andrew & Hall (1990), into the effects of relaxation/imagery training on recurrent aphthous stomatitis, found a significant decrease in the frequency of ulcer recurrence for all participants when hypnosis-like procedures were used. However, no pattern was found when psychological distress was examined for relationship to ulcer recurrence and symptomatic changes with treatment. Upon closer examination, it is observable that there is scant empirical research to support the assumption of a psychological basis. Indeed, what little research there is appears to be divided between corroborating and contradicting the assumption. For example, a study of the impact on physical and mental health of the people in the temporary housing a year after an earthquake found that stress was manifested in specific physical effects, such as stomatitis (Tanaka & Takagi, 1997). The purpose of this study is to find out if aphthous ulceration really is brought about through stress.

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Please go to full transcriptof journal article submitted to British Journal of Health Psychology.