JOURNAL ARTICLE

Adaptive coping among family members of persons with serious mental illness

P Solomon, J Draine
Psychiatric Services: a Journal of the American Psychiatric Association 1995, 46 (11): 1156-60
8564505

OBJECTIVE: This study sought to describe factors associated with adaptive coping by family members with a psychiatrically disabled relative.

METHODS: A total of 225 family members of persons with serious mental illness were interviewed. Hierarchical regression analysis using five variables that may have contributed to adaptive coping was conducted. The five factors were demographic characteristics of the family member, severity of the relative's illness, the family member's subjective burden and grief, social support, and personal coping resources (self-efficacy and mastery).

RESULTS: More extensive adaptive coping was associated with increased social support as measured by the density of the social network, the extent of affirming social support, and participation in a support group for families. Better coping was also associated with a greater sense of self-efficacy in dealing with the relative's mental illness. Adaptive coping was not associated with the severity of the relative's illness.

CONCLUSIONS: The findings suggest that mental health professionals should encourage family members to use the support provided by community-based support groups and to form such groups if none are available.

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