Background: Personality traits influence health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in Parkinson's disease (PD). Further, an individual's personality traits can influence the strategies they use to cope with a particular stressful situation. However, in PD, the interplay between personality traits, choice of coping strategy, and their subsequent effect on HRQoL remains unclear.
Objective: The objective of this study was to examine whether personality (neuroticism and extraversion) indirectly affects HRQoL through the use of specific psychological coping strategies.
Methods: One hundred and forty-six patients with PD completed questionnaires on personality (Big Five Aspects Scale; BFAS), coping (Ways of Coping Questionnaire; WCQ), and mood-specific (Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale; DASS-21) and disease-specific HRQoL (Parkinson's Disease Questionnaire; PDQ-39).
Results: After controlling for gender, age at diagnosis, and age at testing, the emotion-focused coping strategy of escape-avoidance was significantly correlated with neuroticism and certain aspects of HRQoL (cognitive impairment and social support). This suggests that neurotic personality traits may negatively impact on some aspects of HRQoL due to an increased use of escape-avoidance coping strategies. By contrast, planned problem-solving and escape-avoidance coping strategies were both significantly linked to extraversion and interpersonal and mood-related domains of HRQoL. This suggests that extraversion may positively impact on some aspects of HRQoL due to patients adopting greater planned, problem-solving coping strategies, and using fewer escape-avoidance coping mechanisms.
Conclusions: Psychological interventions aimed at targeting maladaptive coping strategies, such as the use of escape-avoidance coping, may be effective in minimising the negative impact of neuroticism on HRQoL in PD.