How do psychological variables influence coping strategies in inflammatory bowel disease?

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Background: Adjusting to chronic disease is a complex process and one that, in the case of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), has received very little attention. The objectives of this study were to identify coping strategies used by patients with IBD and to explore how these strategies are related to psychological characteristics.

Methods: A transversal study was designed in which 875 patients with IBD were prospectively enrolled. Independent variables were evaluated using a sociodemographic questionnaire and a clinical questionnaire—the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) and the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS); dependent variables were evaluated using the COPE Inventory (Coping Orientation to Problems Experienced), a multidimensional scale for evaluating general coping styles. Multiple linear regression was used to identify the variables associated with the type of coping used.

Results: The participation rate was 91.3%. The most common coping strategy was emotion-focused coping ( X = 2:64; 95% CI = 2.61–2.69), with no differences in relation to type of disease. The highest scores for anxiety were associated with emotion-focused coping (β = 0.164, p = 0.001) whereas, for depression, the highest scores were associated with escape–avoidance (β = 0.108, p = 0.044). No correlation was found between stress levels and type of coping.

Conclusions: Patients with IBD have a tendency to focus on emotions in their coping process, and this process appears to be related not only to sociodemographic characteristics or features of the disease itself but also to psychological factors—anxiety and depression, primarily.

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