Adapting to major chronic illness: a proposal for a comprehensive task-model approach

Patient Educ Couns. 2008 Mar;70(3):426-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2007.10.018. Epub 2007 Dec 21.


Objective: To develop a comprehensive task-based model that describes the psychosocial adaptation process to major chronic illness.

Method: In order to achieve this objective, we reviewed the four task-based models: those of Moos and Tsu [Moos RH, Tsu DV. Coping with physical illness. New York: Plenum Medical Company; 1977], Cohen and Lazarus [Cohen F, Lazarus RS. Coping with the stress of illness. In: Stone CG, Cohen F, Adler NE, editors. Health psychology: a handbook. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass; 1979. p. 217-54], Corr [Corr C. A task-based approach to coping with dying. Omega 1992;24:81-94] and Samson [Samson A. L'apport de la carrière au modèle théorique des tâches d'adaptation à la maladie chronique: une application au cas des personnes qui vivent avec le VIH. Can J Couns 2006;40:4-16].

Results: We propose a comprehensive task-based model that gives a comprehensive description of the process of psychosocial adaptation to chronic illness.

Conclusion: With the gradual rise in life expectancy and quality of living for individuals diagnosed with major chronic illnesses, it is becoming increasingly relevant to understand how these individuals adapt to their conditions over the long term. The comprehensive model allows medical professionals to look at the challenges of this process from both objective and subjective points of view.

Practice implications: To enhance current practice by helping professionals to conceptualize their patients' process of adaptation to chronic illness in a holistic manner.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Chronic Disease / prevention & control
  • Chronic Disease / psychology*
  • Existentialism / psychology
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Life Expectancy
  • Long-Term Care / psychology
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Role*
  • Self Care / psychology
  • Self Concept
  • Social Support
  • Spirituality
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Terminal Care / psychology