Psychological adjustment to systemic sclerosis


  • Vanessa Lynne Malcarne PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA
    • Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, San Diego State University, 6363 Alvarado Court, Suite 103, San Diego, CA 92120-4913
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  • Helen Lea Greenbergs BA

    1. San Diego State University/University of California, San Diego, Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology
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Objective. To examine the role of demographic, disability, appraisal, and coping variables in predicting psychological adjustment in individuals with systemic sclerosis.

Methods. Two hundred forty-two individuals with systemic sclerosis (SSc; diffuse and limited) were surveyed by mail. Demographics, functional disability, pain, control appraisals, 8 types of coping, and individual psychosocial adjustment were assessed by selfreport questionnaires with established reliability and validity.

Results. In regression analysis, 3 coping strategies emerged as significant predictors of adjustment: Wishful Thinking, Blaming Self, and Problem-Focused Coping. Self-reports of disability and control appraisals were also significant predictors. Collectively, 46% of the variance in adjustment was explained by these 5 predictor variables. The strongest predictor of overall adjustment was wishful thinking, explaining 22% of the variance in adjustment.

Conclusions. Potentially modifiable appraisal and coping variables, along with disease-related disability, appear to play an important role in predicting adjustment to SSc, while demographic variables explained little of the variability in patient adjustment.