Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

pp 708-709

Escape-Avoidance Coping

  • Urs M. NaterAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Marburg Email author 


Coping is a cognitive-behavioral process that takes place in the context of a situation or condition perceived as personally relevant, challenging, or that exceeds an individual’s resources to adequately deal with a problem. Coping styles may be dysfunctional or maladaptive in various contexts. Particularly in various patient groups, it has been shown that patients tend to use significantly more maladaptive strategies than healthy controls. Maladaptive coping styles have been shown to be associated with clinical features (e.g., fatigue, impairment, illness burden, psychosocial problems, or psychiatric comorbidity).

One of the best examined maladaptive coping styles is escape-avoidance coping. Escape-avoidance coping involves disengaging or staying away from a stressful situation and its behavioral and cognitive/emotional consequences. Typical strategies in response to a stressful situation might encompass cognitive avoidance (“Refused to believe that it had happened” ...

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