Planning helps, behavioral disengagement does not: coping and depression in the spouses of heart transplant candidates.
OBJECTIVE: To describe the coping strategies used by the spouses of cardiac patients who are pursuing heart transplant and to determine whether coping strategies predict depression in these spouses. METHOD: This is a cross-sectional design with 28 spouses (86% female) of cardiac patients who were being evaluated for heart transplant at a large medical center. Coping styles were measured using the COPE Inventory (Carver CS, Scheier MF, Weintraub JK, J Pers Soc Psychol 1989: 56: 267). Depression was assessed with the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (Radloff LS, Appl Psychol Meas 1977: 1: 385). RESULTS: Spouses reported using adaptive coping strategies more than the less adaptive strategies. Increased levels of depression were positively correlated with 'behavioral disengagement' and negatively correlated with 'planning' coping strategies. CONCLUSIONS: Most studies find that maladaptive coping styles are associated with psychological distress. Consistent with these findings, we found that behavioral disengagement was associated with increased levels of depression. However, in the present study the more adaptive coping strategy of planning was associated with lower levels of psychological distress. These findings suggest that in the spouses of heart transplant candidates, both maladaptive and adaptive coping strategies may serve as markers of the presence or absence of emotional distress and thus may help in identifying spouses who may benefit from psychological, social work, or nursing interventions.
Burker, EJ; Evon, D; Loiselle, MM; Finkel, J; Mill, M
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