The Role of Self-Blame and Responsibility in Adjustment to Inflammatory Bowel Disease

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Objective:S. C. Roesch and B. Weiner's (2001) theoretical model of adjustment to chronic illness was adapted to examine the role of attributions, avoidant coping strategies, and disease severity in the psychological adjustment of people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).Research Method and Design:People with IBD (N = 259) completed an online survey including measures of health-related self-blame and responsibility attributions, disease severity, avoidant coping strategies, and psychological adjustment indexes (coping efficacy, acceptance, and helplessness).Results:Structural equation modeling revealed that avoidant coping mediated the relationship between attributions and psychological adjustment. Attributions of self-blame were directly related to increased avoidant coping, which was in turn associated with poor adjustment. Beliefs about responsibility were associated with decreased use of avoidant coping strategies and subsequently improved psychological adjustment. Higher scores on disease severity were linked to the use of avoidant coping strategies and poor psychological adjustment.Conclusions:Distinguishing between self-blame and responsibility attributions has important implications for understanding the psychological adjustment of individuals with IBD and may be useful for creating intervention strategies aimed at enhancing the psychological functioning of people with IBD.

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