Objectives: The objectives of the study described here were to 1) examine the coping style of patients with functional dyspepsia (FD) and 2) adopt a new interview questionnaire to examine the extent of discriminativeness in the use of coping strategies across different stressful situations.
Methods: A matched case-control design was adopted to compare differences among a target group of 30 patients with FD, a pain control group of 30 patients with rheumatism, and a control group of 30 healthy persons. A new interview questionnaire, the Coping Flexibility Interview Schedule, was used to assess subjects' experience of stressful life events, use of coping strategies, and perceived severity of major FD symptoms.
Results: Subjects with FD perceived their experienced stressors as more uncontrollable and as having a greater impact (p < .05). They also used more direct-action strategies but fewer divert attention, acceptance, social support, and relaxation strategies when handling stressful life events (p < .05). A significant group-by-controllability interaction effect was found (p < .001), indicating that FD subjects tended to use coping strategies nondiscriminatively, whereas both rheumatic and healthy subjects tended to use coping strategies more discriminatively across stressful life events of different extents of controllability.
Conclusions: These results indicate that FD patients are characterized by a nondiscriminative, action-oriented coping style. The implications of this finding for the extant body of research and the advantages of using our interview questionnaire, which has a more flexible format, are discussed.