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Sense of coherence, coping and quality of life following a critical illness


  • See Kee Fok RN MSN,

  • Sek Ying Chair MBA PhD RN CCRN,

  • Violeta Lopez MNA PhD RN MPET FRCNA

See Kee Fok,
ICU, Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospitals,
3 Lok Man Road,
Chai Wan,
Hong Kong,


Aim.  This paper reports the findings of a study exploring the relationships among patients’ sense of coherence, coping ability and health-related quality of life following a critical illness.

Background.  Sense of coherence is a strong determinant of positive health outcomes and successful coping. Promoting sense of coherence has been used for health promotion in the general public so that better coping ability will be achieved and, thus, better quality of life. There have been limited studies focusing on these aspects in critically ill patients, particularly during the weeks following discharge from intensive care units.

Methods.  Based on the salutogenic theoretical framework, a descriptive, correlational research design using telephone interviews was used. Participants’ outlook on life, quality of life and coping responses were measured using Chinese versions of Sense of Coherence scale, SF-36 and Coping Scale, respectively.

Results.  Eighty-eight people participated in the study. Sense of coherence was significantly correlated with quality of life (r = 0·28–0·69) and with coping ability (r = 0·58). Furthermore, coping ability was significantly correlated with six (r = 0·25–0·52) out of the eight dimensions of quality of life. It was also found that high household income and support from adult children were predictors of strong sense of coherence.

Conclusion.  Patients with a strong sense of coherence are likely to take an active role in shaping their own health outcomes. The results of this study will enable nurses to design interventions in the early phase of hospitalization to enhance patients’ sense of coherence and coping abilities following a critical illness so that quality of life can be promoted.