Attributions for negative events in the partners of adults with type I diabetes: Associations with partners' expressed emotion and marital adjustment

Br J Health Psychol. 2006 Feb;11(Pt 1):1-21. doi: 10.1348/135910705x73676.


Objectives: An attribution-emotion model of reactions to illness was tested in a sample of partners of 60 adult patients with type I diabetes.

Methods: Partners were interviewed using the Camberwell family interview (CFI), from which spontaneous attributions for negative events were extracted and coded. Events were classified into diabetes and non-diabetes events. Partners also completed questionnaire measures of marital adjustment, anxiety and depression.

Results: Compared with low expressed emotion (EE) partners, high-EE partners attributed proportionally more negative diabetes events (e.g. patient characteristics and behaviour) to factors controllable by and personal to the patient. High-EE partners were more anxious than low-EE partners, and made more responsibility attributions (attributions rated as both internal and controllable and personal). Partners with poorer marital adjustment made more responsibility attributions, but only for non-diabetes events.

Conclusion: Whereas attributions for both diabetes and non-diabetes events were related to partners' EE, attributions for diabetes events were not significantly associated with partners' marital adjustment.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Cost of Illness
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / psychology*
  • Family Characteristics*
  • Family Health
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Marriage / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Social Adjustment*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires