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.