Is the effect of coping styles disease specific? relationships with emotional distress and quality of life in acquired brain injury and multiple sclerosis

Ingrid Brands*, Yvonne Bol, Sven Stapert, Sebastian Köhler, Caroline van Heugten

*Corresponding author for this work

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OBJECTIVE: To investigate the use of coping styles and the relationships linking coping to emotional distress and quality of life in patients with acquired brain injury and multiple sclerosis.

METHOD: Cross-sectional cohort study of 143 patients with acquired brain injury and 310 patients with multiple sclerosis in the chronic stage. Quality of life was measured with the Life Satisfaction Questionnaire (LiSat-9), coping styles with the Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations (CISS-T, task-oriented; CISS-E, emotion-oriented; CISS-A, avoidance), emotional distress with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS).

RESULTS: Coping styles did not differ between types of multiple sclerosis and varied only little with regard to severity of disease. In both patient groups, task-oriented coping was most used followed by avoidance and emotion-oriented coping. Patients with multiple sclerosis used all styles to a greater extent. In acquired brain injury, lower CISS-E and lower HADS scores were associated with higher LiSat-9 scores. CISS-E had a direct effect on LiSat-9 and an indirect effect via HADS. In multiple sclerosis, next to lower CISS-E and lower HADS scores, higher CISS-A scores were also associated with higher LiSat-9 scores. CISS-E had an indirect effect and CISS-A had a direct and indirect effect on LiSat-9.

CONCLUSION: In both patient groups, coping patterns are similar, and emotion-oriented coping negatively influences quality of life. Additionally, in multiple sclerosis, seeking emotional support and distraction (CISS-A) was positively associated with quality of life. Interventions to improve adaptive coping could be organized within a neurorehabilitation setting for both patient groups together.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-126
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Rehabilitation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


  • Journal Article
  • multiple sclerosis
  • emotional distress
  • Coping style
  • brain injury
  • quality of life
  • Multiple Sclerosis/psychology
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Male
  • Brain Injuries/psychology
  • Young Adult
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Stress, Psychological/psychology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emotions
  • Quality of Life
  • Aged
  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Cohort Studies

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