Adversarial Growth in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis and their Partners: Relationships with Illness Perceptions, Disability and Distress

  • Katie Ackroyd
  • Dónal G. Fortune
  • Siân Price
  • Stephen Howell
  • Basil Sharrack
  • Claire L. IsaacEmail author


The purpose of this study was to investigate whether patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and their partners show adversarial growth and to examine which psychological and disability variables contribute to this in patients and their partners. The study also investigated the relationship between growth and distress. Seventy-two patients with MS and their partners provided demographic information and completed measures of posttraumatic growth, illness perceptions, depression, cognitive function and disability. Both patients and partners showed adversarial growth, with patients reporting significantly higher growth than partners. The only significant predictor for patient growth was partner growth, and vice versa. Dissimilarity in illness representations between patients and their partners on the consequences of MS dimension, patient mood and patient growth accounted for significant variance in partner growth. The findings support the idea of a ‘communal search for meaning’ where patients and their partners experience the trauma of having a chronic illness and subsequently find positive aspects together.


Multiple sclerosis Adversarial growth Illness perceptions 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katie Ackroyd
    • 1
  • Dónal G. Fortune
    • 3
  • Siân Price
    • 2
  • Stephen Howell
    • 2
  • Basil Sharrack
    • 2
  • Claire L. Isaac
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Clinical Psychology UnitUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK
  2. 2.Department of NeurologyRoyal Hallamshire HospitalSheffieldUK
  3. 3.Acquired Brain Injury IrelandDublinRepublic of Ireland

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