Purpose of the study: In this study the relevance of sense of coherence (SOC) for coping with an illness was examined in subjects with Parkinson's disease. According to Antonovsky's model (1997) the sense of coherence is an important resource when it comes to dealing with stressors. To take into consideration the integrated view of Parkinson patients, severity of the illness (UPDRS) was determined by the neurologist and tendency toward depression was recorded.
Method: 51 patients with PD (mean age: 67.7; 43.1% female; 56.9% male) and 59 volunteers without any neurological illness (mean age: 65.7; 54.2% female; 45.8% male) took part in this study. The sample was recruited from the Neurological Department of the Medical University of Vienna. This quasi-experimental sample was assessed with standardized self-assessment questionnaires: FKV-LIS-SE, SOC-Scale and GDS. Correlations, t-tests, U-tests, multivariate analyses of variance and linear regressions were used for calculation.
Results: Persons with PD were characterized by lower SOC (p<.01) and higher scores on depression (p<.01), compared to persons of the control group. Parkinson patients tend to use depressive and minimizing coping strategies (p<.01). In addition the study indicates an influence of SOC and tendency toward depression on coping (R(2)=0.43). Sense of coherence and coping strategies are independent of severity of illness, but there is a significant association between the duration of illness and active-problem focused coping.
Conclusion: In general, sense of coherence correlates only with psychological variables, and not with physical variables. Results indicate the importance of SOC on effective coping. Therefore strengthening of SOC is important, especially in context with chronic neurological illness. Individual orientated analysis of resources should be implemented in every counselling interview, so that possibilities for activities of daily living and leisure can be developed.