Purpose: To investigate the mediating role of coping self-efficacy (CSE) between two types of illness cognitions (i.e., acceptance and helplessness) and depressive symptoms in persons with low vision.
Methods: This was a single-group, cross-sectional study. Patients with visual acuity < 6/12 in the better eye and at least minimal depressive symptoms (≥5 on the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 [PHQ-9]) were recruited from vision rehabilitation services and participated in telephone-administered structured interviews at one time point. Measures were the PHQ-9, CSE Scale, and Illness Cognition Questionnaire. Structural equation modeling (SEM) devised the causal flow of illness cognitions and their observed indirect effects on depressive symptoms via the CSE mediators: problem focused, emotion focused, and social support.
Results: The study comprised 163 patients (mean age 62 years; 61% female), most with age-related macular degeneration (26%) and moderate vision impairment (44%, <6/18-6/60). Structural equation modeling indices indicated a perfect fit (χ2 < 0.001, P = 1.00), accounting for 55% of the variance in depressive symptoms. Lower levels of acceptance and higher levels of helplessness illness cognitions were associated with lower self-efficacy in problem-focused coping (β = 0.38, P < 0.001, β = -0.28, P < 0.01, respectively), which in turn was associated with greater depressive symptom severity (β = -0.54, P < 0.001).
Conclusions: Lack of acceptance and greater helplessness relating to low vision led to a lack of perceived capability to engage in problem-focused coping, which in turn promoted depressive symptoms. Third-wave cognitive-behavioral treatments that focus on acceptance may be efficacious in this population.