Personal resilience, cognitive appraisals, and coping: an integrative model of adjustment to abortion

J Pers Soc Psychol. 1998 Mar;74(3):735-52. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.74.3.735.

Abstract

We hypothesized that the effects of personality (self-esteem, control, and optimism) on postabortion adaptation (distress, well-being, and decision satisfaction) would be fully mediated by preabortion cognitive appraisals (stress appraisals and self-efficacy appraisals) and postabortion coping. We further proposed that the effects of preabortion appraisals on adaptation would be fully mediated by postabortion coping. Results of a longitudinal study of 527 women who had first-trimester abortions supported our hypotheses. Women with more resilient personalities appraised their abortion as less stressful and had higher self-efficacy for coping with the abortion. More positive appraisals predicted greater acceptance/reframing coping and lesser avoidance/denial, venting, support seeking, and religious coping. Acceptance-reframing predicted better adjustment on all measures, whereas avoidance-denial and venting related to poorer adjustment on all measures. Greater support seeking was associated with reduced distress, and greater religious coping was associated with less decision satisfaction.

PIP: An integrative model of psychological adjustment to abortion, derived from existing cognitive-phenomenological models of coping with stressful life events, was tested in a longitudinal study of 527 women (mean age, 23.9 years) who underwent first-trimester abortion in Buffalo, New York (US), in 1993. It was hypothesized that the effects of personality (self-esteem, control, and optimism) on postabortion adaptation (distress, well-being, and decision satisfaction) would be mediated by pre-abortion cognitive appraisals of stress and self-efficacy. As hypothesized, women with more resilient personalities appraised their abortion as less stressful and had higher self-efficacy for coping with the event. The lower women's stress appraisals, the more they used acceptance/positive reframing for coping and the less they relied on avoidance/denial. Acceptance/reframing predicted better adjustment on all measures, while avoidance/denial and venting predicted poorer adjustment. Greater support seeking was associated with reduced postabortion distress, and greater religious coping was linked with less decision satisfaction. Collectively, the analyses suggested that the hypothesized model provided a parsimonious and theoretically grounded explanation of the pattern of associations in the data. These findings suggest a need for clinical interventions that help women learn to use more beneficial forms of coping with abortion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced / psychology*
  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Individuality*
  • Internal-External Control*
  • Motivation
  • Personality Inventory
  • Pregnancy
  • Self Concept*
  • Self-Assessment