Optimism and coping as determinants of psychosocial adjustment to rheumatoid arthritis

J Clin Psychol Med Settings. 1994 Jun;1(2):115-34. doi: 10.1007/BF01999741.


Psychosocial adjustment in 66 patients with chronic rheumatoid arthritis, with a mean duration of 12 years with the disease, were evaluated in a prospective design, with 62% of the sample followed up 16 months later. It was predicted that dispositional optimism would predict adjustment over time and that perceived support and perceived control would be related to psychosocial adjustment at the time of concurrent measurement. At Time 1, psychosocial adjustment was associated with greater optimism and perceived support and less disability. Optimism at Time 1 was the only significant predictor of changes in adjustment at Time 2 controlling for Time 1 adjustment and Time 2 disability. It was found that optimism temporally precedes increases in psychosocial adjustment. In terms of coping strategies, wishful thinking was related to poorer social adjustment, whereas problem-focused coping was marginally related to positive adjustment. Neither coping strategy predicted adjustment across time. Optimism at Time 1 did predict problem-focused coping at Time 2. Perceived social support regarding a specific circumstance at a given point in time enables one to persist in solving a task. Interventions to enhance the quality of life of individuals coping with progressive deteriorative disease must look at the influence of their behavior and attitude on those who provide care for them.