Developing interventions for chronically ill patients: is coping a helpful concept?

Clin Psychol Rev. 2001 Mar;21(2):205-40. doi: 10.1016/s0272-7358(99)00046-x.


In this review, the role of coping in the development of psychosocial interventions for chronically ill patients is discussed. After summarizing the theoretical issues involved in the translation of the coping concept into an intervention, a review is undertaken of 35 studies concerned with the impact of interventions aimed at improving coping on patients' quality of life. These studies concern seven different chronic disease types (AIDS, asthma, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, chronic pain, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis) and show explicit consideration of attempts to manage illness in terms of coping to be rare. Many studies nevertheless address the equivalent of coping, namely behaviors and/or cognitions intended to deal with an illness situation appraised as stressful. The results of these studies are encouraging, although largely limited to the improvement of one or two particular coping strategies and problem-focused strategies in particular. It is argued that in order to expand on these initially positive findings, greater and more explicit consideration should be given to the potential of the coping concept for intervention with the chronically ill. The appraisal of stressful situations, the use of coping resources, and the strategic application of particular coping strategies should, for example, be given more careful consideration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Chronic Disease / psychology*
  • Decision Making
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Problem Solving
  • Program Development
  • Quality of Life
  • Social Support*
  • Stress, Psychological