Ways of coping with cystic fibrosis: implications for treatment adherence

J Abbott, M Dodd, L Gee, K Webb
Disability and Rehabilitation 2001 May 20, 23 (8): 315-24

PURPOSE: How individuals cope with aspects of cystic fibrosis (CF) has the potential to influence their self management and the course of their disease. To evaluate how individuals cope with CF, a disease specific coping scale was developed and validated. A second objective of the work was to examine the relationship between coping styles and treatment adherence.

METHODS: The development of the coping scale constituted a longitudinal design. A cross-sectional questionnaire design was used to examine the coping-adherence relationship. The development and validation of the coping scale comprised three phases: (1) Initially, 60 patients were interviewed to identify CF concerns. From this information a list of 23 concerns were recorded; (2) Eighty-three patients were interviewed to identify CF coping responses. For each concern, they were asked what they did or thought to ease the worry. A list of 24 coping strategies were recorded that formed a comprehensive set of items as to how people with CF act, feel and think about aspects of their disease; and (3) Further development and testing of the questionnaire involved 174 patients completing the measure. Four distinct ways of coping with CF were identified by factor analysis. These were termed optimistic acceptance, hopefulness, distraction and avoidance. The cronbach alpha coefficients were 0.74 (optimistic acceptance), 0.69 (hopefulness). 0.71 (distraction) and 0.76 (avoidance). To evaluate the relationship between coping and treatment adherence 60 patients completed the CF Coping Questionnaire and the Manchester Adult Cystic Fibrosis Compliance Questionnaire.

RESULTS: Compared with patients who were non-adherent, those who were adherent scored higher on the optimistic acceptance scale (physiotherapy p < 0.05, enzymes p < 0.003, vitamins p < 0.05) and hopefulness scale (physiotherapy p < 0.002, enzymes p < 0.001). Those who were partially adherent reported using distraction as a way of coping to a greater extent than adherent or non-adherent patients (all p's < 0.05). Non-adherent patients used avoidance strategies to a greater extent than those who were adherent (physiotherapy p < 0.05, enzymes p < 0.04), although interestingly, adherence with exercise was associated with avoidant coping (p < 0.004).

CONCLUSIONS: The degree of adherence to treatments was influenced by a person's style of coping. The identification of effective coping strategies to aid both long-term psychological and clinical well-being should improve the management of non-adherence.

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