Behavioral and characterological self-blame in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

J Psychosom Res. 2012 Jan;72(1):78-83. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2011.10.004. Epub 2011 Dec 7.


Objective: To assess behavioral and characterological self-blame, identify demographic and relational correlates of self-blame, and determine the association of self-blame with psychological and clinical outcomes of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Methods: Data were collected via self-report questionnaires completed by 398 individuals with COPD who had at least a 10 pack-year history of smoking. Behavioral and characterological self-blame were measured, and multiple regression was used to identify correlates of both types of self-blame. Multiple regression was also used to determine the association of self-blame with outcomes of COPD.

Results: More than one-third of participants endorsed the maximum possible score on the measure of behavioral self-blame. The perception that family members blamed the individual for having COPD (p=.001), tobacco exposure (p=.005), and general family functioning (p=.002) were associated with behavioral self-blame. Current smoking status (p=.001) and perception of blame from family (p<.001) were associated with characterological self-blame. While behavioral self-blame was associated with fewer symptoms of depression (p=.02), characterological self-blame was associated with more symptoms of depression (p=.02).

Conclusions: Individuals with COPD tend to blame themselves for smoking and other behaviors that may have led to their COPD. Smoking-related variables and the perception that family members blamed the individual for having COPD were associated with self-blame. Findings support the importance of distinguishing between behavioral and characterological self-blame in COPD, as behavioral self-blame had a negative association with depression and characterological self-blame had a positive association with depression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Guilt*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / psychology*
  • Quality of Life
  • Self Concept
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires