Psychological status among elderly people with chronic diseases: does type of disease play a part?

J Psychosom Res. 1996 May;40(5):521-34. doi: 10.1016/0022-3999(95)00620-6.


Psychological status, including depressive symptoms, anxiety, and mastery, was measured in a community-based sample of 3,076 persons aged 55 to 85 with various chronic diseases. Strong, linear associations were found between the number of chronic diseases and depressive symptoms and anxiety, indicating that psychological distress among elderly people is more apparent in the presence of (more) diseases. Furthermore, in contrast to general assumptions that mastery is a relatively stable state, our results indicate that mastery is affected by having chronic diseases. The 8 groups of chronically ill patients (with cardiac disease, peripheral atherosclerosis, stroke, diabetes, lung disease, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or cancer) did differ in their associations with psychological distress. Psychological distress is most frequently experienced by patients with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and stroke, whereas diabetic and cardiac patients appear to be the least psychologically distressed. Differences in disease characteristics, such as functional incapacitation and illness controllability, may partly explain these observed psychological differences across diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Chronic Disease / psychology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Inventory
  • Sick Role*