Coping strategies and associated features of medically ill patients.

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Abstract

This study examined the psychological and behavioral correlates of three major coping strategies used by medically ill patients in dealing with their illness; namely, confrontation, avoidance, and acceptance-resignation. The subjects consisted of 223 male medical patients with a variety of life-threatening and chronic illnesses. Coping responses were measured by the Medical Coping Modes Questionnaire, while other variables were tapped by a variety of self-report and test measures, as well as by interview data. Significant correlates were found for each of the coping strategies accounting for 10 to 53% of the variance. These included demographic, illness, and psychological variables. Employment of acceptance-resignation as a coping strategy was particularly evident in patients with little expectation of recovery and a lack of hope. Effectiveness of coping appeared to be negatively linked to frequent use of avoidance and acceptance-resignation in life-threatened patients. Overall, it seems that a variety of variables across several domains accompany the use of a particular coping strategy; that choice of a specific strategy is most likely multidetermined; and that the configuration of variables associated with a particular strategy is likely to be different for each coping strategy. Coping behavior is a subtle, multifashioned expression the complete grasp of which demands an integrative approach.

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