Examining Systematic Differences in Adaptation to Chronic Illness: A Growth Modeling Approach

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Understanding the developmental nature of the course of individual adaptation to chronic illness has been limited by emphasis on group change. This paper proposes a new method of examining longitudinal data to describe individual differences in adaptation using individual growth curves. Two applications of CURVE growth modeling were used with samples of children with juvenile diabetes, children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and healthy control children to discriminate among competing models of adjustment. Tucker-Lewis incremental fit measures indicate that among competing models of adjustment for both emotional distress and behavior problems, unique patterns of adjustment best explain the data. Factor (growth) scores that represent these unique patterns are utilized in further analyses. The benefits of this new conceptual and statistical model are described.

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