, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 265-277

Coping with Severe Mental Illness: Relations of the Brief COPE with Symptoms, Functioning, and Well-Being

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The way patients cope with the experience of having an episode and being hospitalized for psychiatric disorder may relate to symptom severity, social functioning, and psychological well-being. Coping was assessed among 70 psychiatric inpatients diagnosed primarily with schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, and schizoaffective disorder. The Brief COPE—a questionnaire developed in health psychology (C. S. Carver, 1997)—was administered in interviewer-assisted format during patients' stay on the ward. Thirty patients were re-interviewed an average of 6 weeks after discharge. Among patients with schizophrenia, schizophrenia symptom severity correlated inversely with adaptive coping (e.g., acceptance, planning, seeking support) but did not correlate with maladaptive coping (e.g., self-blame, denial). Among those with schizophrenia, deficits in adaptive coping also predicted relative increases in schizophrenia symptoms over time, controlling for intake symptom severity. Among patients without schizophrenia, maladaptive coping correlated concurrently with depressive symptoms. Several hypothesized associations between concurrent coping, functioning, and well-being were also documented.