Geopersonality of Preventable Death in the United States: Anger-Prone States and Opioid Deaths

James Gerhart, Paul Duberstein, Danielle Paull, Sean O’Mahony, John Burns, Martin DeNicolo, Michael Hoerger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Opioid overdoses have reached epidemic levels in the United States and have clustered in Northeastern and “Rust Belt” states. Five Factor Model (FFM) personality traits also vary at the state level, with anger-prone traits clustered in the Northeast region. This study tested the hypothesis that state-level anger proneness would be associated with a greater increase in rates of opioid overdose death. Methods: This was a secondary analysis of state-level data on FFM traits, opioid overdose deaths, and other classes of preventable death. Robust mixed models tested whether change in rates of opioid overdose death from 2008 to 2016 was moderated by state-level anger proneness. Results: State-level anger proneness was significantly associated with greater increases in rates of opioid overdose deaths (B = 1.01, standard error = 0.19, P <.001, 95% confidence interval: 0.63-1.39). The slope of increase in opioid overdose death rates was 380% greater in anger-prone states and held after adjustment for potential confounders such as state-level prevalence of major depressive disorder, number of mental health facilities, and historical patterns of manufacturing decline. A similar pattern was observed between state-level anger proneness and benzodiazepine overdose deaths but was not significant for the latter after adjustment for potential confounders. Conclusion: These findings suggest that states characterized as more anger prone have experienced greater increases in opioid overdose deaths.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)624-631
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • anger
  • geographical psychology
  • opioid overdose
  • preventable death


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