Causal attributions in clinical subtypes of depression: A longitudinal study of inpatients

  • Asle Hoffart
  • Egil W. Martinsen


The study material comprised inpatients who met DSM-III-R criteria for (a) dysthymia without panic and/or agoraphobia (n=20), (b) major depression without panic and/or agoraphobia (n=26), (c) both major depression and panic with agoraphobia (comorbid patients) (n=17), and (d) panic with agoraphobia without any depressive disorder (n=22). The patients completed the Attributional Style Questionnaire and the Beck Depression Inventory and were assessed on the Comprehensive Psychopathological Rating Scale upon admission to the hospital and at discharge. Some of the self-report scales were also administered at 1-year follow-up. It was assumed that dysthymic patients and patients with both major depression and agoraphobia would exhibit more biased attributions for bad events than “purely” major depressed and “purely” agoraphobic patients. However, inconsistent with this hypothesis, obtained group differences could be statistically reduced to differences in depressive symptom level. At each assessment, attributions for bad events correlated significantly with depressive symptom level. Attributional bias tended to decrease during treatment. However, most attribution subscales exhibited moderate stability in terms of correlation across assessments. Attributing bad events to global causes proved to predict later depression.

Key words

attributions depressive subtypes longitudinal 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Asle Hoffart
    • 1
  • Egil W. Martinsen
    • 1
  1. 1.Research InstituteModum Bads NervesanatoriumVikersundNorway

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