Ego development and chronic illness in adolescents

J Pers Soc Psychol. 1990 Aug;59(2):305-10. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.59.2.305.


To examine the effects of chronic illness on the psychological growth process known as ego development, scores were compared on the Loevinger Sentence Completion Test for 36 teens (16 boys, 20 girls) with chronic illness and 50 teens (16 boys, 34 girls) without chronic illness. Their ages ranged from 13 to 21 years, with a mean of 17.4 years. Most were Black (37%) or Hispanic (41%) and lived in poor or working-class neighborhoods. When age, sex, and Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT) scores were controlled in multiple regression analyses, no direct association between ego development stage and presence of chronic illness, severity of illness, age at onset, or duration of illness was found. Analysis of the chronically ill group alone revealed a significant PPVT X Severity interaction, indicating that ego development in chronically ill teens is lower when illness is more severe and verbal IQ is higher.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Asthma / psychology
  • Chronic Disease / psychology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / psychology
  • Ego*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personality Development*
  • Personality Tests
  • Sick Role*