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How does social comparison within a self-help group influence adjustment to chronic illness? A longitudinal study

How does social comparison within a self-help group influence adjustment to chronic illness? A longitudinal study
How does social comparison within a self-help group influence adjustment to chronic illness? A longitudinal study
Despite the growing popularity of self-help groups for people with chronic illness, there has been surprisingly little research into how these may support adjustment to illness. This study investigated the role that social comparison, occurring within a self-help group, may play in adjustment to chronic illness. A model of adjustment based on control process theory and response shift theory was tested to determine whether social comparisons predicted adjustment after controlling for the catalyst for adjustment (disease severity) and antecedents (demographic and psychological factors). A sample of 301 people with Meniere's disease who were members of the Meniere's Society UK completed questionnaires at baseline and 10-month follow-up assessing adjustment, defined for this study as functional and goal-oriented quality of life. At baseline, they also completed measures of the predictor variables i.e. the antecedents (age, sex, living circumstances, duration of self-help group membership, self-esteem, optimism and perceived control over illness), the catalyst (severity of vertigo, tinnitus, hearing loss and fullness in the ear) and mechanisms of social comparison within the self-help group. The social comparison variables included the extent to which self-help group resources were used, and whether reading about other members' experiences induced positive or negative feelings. Cross-sectional results showed that positive social comparison was indeed associated with better adjustment after controlling for all the other baseline variables, while negative social comparison was associated with worse adjustment. However, greater levels of social comparison at baseline were associated with a deteriorating quality of life over the 10-month follow-up period. Alternative explanations for these findings are discussed.
uk, adjustment, quality of life, chronic illness, social comparison, longitudinal design
0277-9536
1602-1613
Dibb, Bridget
1cdc4ce1-7f8e-4c21-80ed-c3a48cdae209
Yardley, Lucy
64be42c4-511d-484d-abaa-f8813452a22e
Dibb, Bridget
1cdc4ce1-7f8e-4c21-80ed-c3a48cdae209
Yardley, Lucy
64be42c4-511d-484d-abaa-f8813452a22e

Dibb, Bridget and Yardley, Lucy (2006) How does social comparison within a self-help group influence adjustment to chronic illness? A longitudinal study. Social Science & Medicine, 63 (6), 1602-1613. (doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2006.03.031).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Despite the growing popularity of self-help groups for people with chronic illness, there has been surprisingly little research into how these may support adjustment to illness. This study investigated the role that social comparison, occurring within a self-help group, may play in adjustment to chronic illness. A model of adjustment based on control process theory and response shift theory was tested to determine whether social comparisons predicted adjustment after controlling for the catalyst for adjustment (disease severity) and antecedents (demographic and psychological factors). A sample of 301 people with Meniere's disease who were members of the Meniere's Society UK completed questionnaires at baseline and 10-month follow-up assessing adjustment, defined for this study as functional and goal-oriented quality of life. At baseline, they also completed measures of the predictor variables i.e. the antecedents (age, sex, living circumstances, duration of self-help group membership, self-esteem, optimism and perceived control over illness), the catalyst (severity of vertigo, tinnitus, hearing loss and fullness in the ear) and mechanisms of social comparison within the self-help group. The social comparison variables included the extent to which self-help group resources were used, and whether reading about other members' experiences induced positive or negative feelings. Cross-sectional results showed that positive social comparison was indeed associated with better adjustment after controlling for all the other baseline variables, while negative social comparison was associated with worse adjustment. However, greater levels of social comparison at baseline were associated with a deteriorating quality of life over the 10-month follow-up period. Alternative explanations for these findings are discussed.

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More information

Published date: September 2006
Keywords: uk, adjustment, quality of life, chronic illness, social comparison, longitudinal design

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 44975
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/44975
ISSN: 0277-9536
PURE UUID: 7058207a-5c68-4c17-af0c-9c207a9341d5
ORCID for Lucy Yardley: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-3853-883X

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 21 Mar 2007
Last modified: 09 Jan 2022 02:58

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Contributors

Author: Bridget Dibb
Author: Lucy Yardley ORCID iD

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