Cognitive and behavioural correlates of different domains of psychological adjustment in early stage multiple sclerosis

Dennison, Laura, Moss-Morris, Rona, Silber, Eli, Galea, Ian and Chalder, Trudie (2010) Cognitive and behavioural correlates of different domains of psychological adjustment in early stage multiple sclerosis. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 69, (4), 353-361. (doi:10.1016/j.jpsychores.2010.04.009). (PMID:20846536).


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Objective: this study investigated a cognitive-behavioural model of adjustment to Multiple Sclerosis (MS). It aimed to determine the contribution of cognitions and behaviours to the explanation of two distinct adjustment outcomes above and beyond measures of MS severity. Illness-related functional impairment was anticipated to be most strongly related to unhelpful thoughts and behaviours that were specific to MS and the experience of symptoms. Psychological distress was hypothesised to be most strongly related to more general unhelpful cognitions about the self and emotions.

Methods: 94 people with MS completed questionnaires. Correlations and hierarchical multiple regressions determined the relative contribution of illness severity, cognitions, and behaviours to the prediction of psychological distress and functional impairment.

Results: illness-related functional impairment was related to disease severity, progressive vs. relapsing-remitting disease and unhelpful illness perceptions and cognitive and behavioural responses to symptoms. Illness severity factors accounted for a significant 23.7% of the variance in functional impairment (p<.001). Cognitive and behavioural variables explained a further 22.6% of variance (p<.001) with behavioural responses to symptoms emerging as the strongest predictor. The correlates of distress were unhelpful beliefs about the self, unhelpful beliefs about emotions, acceptance, and unhelpful cognitive responses to symptoms and illness perceptions. Illness severity factors explained only 2.2% of the variance in distress (p>.05) while cognitive and behavioural variables accounted for 37.1% (p<.001). Unhelpful beliefs about the self were the strongest predictor.

Conclusion: longitudinal and experimental research is required to investigate potential causal relationships. However, the cognitions and behaviours identified as important for adjustment are potentially modifiable, so may be useful to address within interventions for adjustment to MS.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1016/j.jpsychores.2010.04.009
ISSNs: 0022-3999 (print)
Keywords: multiple sclerosis, adjustment, distress, impairment, cognitive, behavioural
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Biological Sciences
University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Medicine
University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Psychology > Division of Human Wellbeing
ePrint ID: 148413
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
October 2010Published
Date Deposited: 28 Apr 2010 08:31
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 13:22

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