, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 107-115

The relationship between coping and psychological well-being among people with osteoarthritis: A problem-specific approach

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We examined the strategies that people with osteoarthritis (OA) use to cope with illness-related problems in four areas: household activities, leisure activities, pain management, and social relationships. We also examined the relationship between the coping strategies participants reported using upon entry to the study (Time 1) and psychological well-being reported six months later. Three hundred people, aged 50 and over, with OA participated in the study. Data were collected via two mailed questionnaires, administered at six-month intervals. We found that two of the coping strategies examined, self-criticism and social withdrawal, were used more frequently for social relationship problems than for any of the other three types of problems. None of the other coping strategies (i.e. problem solving, cognitive restructuring, social support, emotional expression, problem avoidance, turning to religion, information seeking) were used differentially across problem areas. Multivariate analyses revealed that the coping strategies people used at Time 1 significantly predicted psychological well-being, as assessed by measures of positive affect, negative affect, and depressive symptoms, six months later. However, the specific strategies that predicted positive affect were different from those that predicted negative affect and depressive symptoms. Implications of these findings for future research on coping with chronic illness are discussed.

Preparation of this manuscript was supported by a New Investigator Award from the Arthritis Foundation.
The authors wish to thank Kimberly Seyfarth for her assistance with data collection.