Coping and adjustment to genital herpes: the effects of time and social support

J Behav Med. 1986 Apr;9(2):163-77. doi: 10.1007/BF00848475.


The current study investigated the relationship of the passage of time and membership in a self-help group with coping behaviors and distress among people with genital herpes. A comparison between 116 people in herpes support groups and 36 community volunteers on the use of coping and level of emotional adjustment was undertaken. Results of the study indicated that people employed fewer coping strategies with increasing time since the onset of the stressor. This pattern was particularly clear in non-support-group subjects. In comparison, support-group members did not exhibit as significant a decrease in the use of coping strategies or as great an improvement in the level of depression and degree bothered by herpes over time. Selection factors and effects of self-help group membership are discussed as alternative explanations for these differences. Future research in the area of group membership as well as helpful and nonhelpful processes in these groups is suggested.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Herpes Genitalis / psychology*
  • Herpes Genitalis / therapy
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Self-Help Groups*
  • Social Adjustment
  • Social Environment*
  • Social Support*
  • Time Factors