Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

Relations between Life Satisfaction, Adjustment to Illness, and Emotional Distress in a Sample of Men with Ischemic Cardiopathy

Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

Relations between Life Satisfaction, Adjustment to Illness, and Emotional Distress in a Sample of Men with Ischemic Cardiopathy

Article excerpt

Fifty-two men who had suffered a first episode ischemic heart disease reported their degree of life satisfaction, the strategies they used to adjust to the illness, and the symptoms of anxiety and depression they felt. The multiple regression analyses carried out indicated that emotional distress was associated with a lower level of life satisfaction. In the analyses of anxiety symptoms, the use of negative adjustment strategies was also a significant predictor. Lastly, a significant Life Satisfaction x Type of Adjustment interaction was obtained. According to this, the patients who felt more satisfaction with their lives used more positive strategies to adjust to the illness and fewer negative ones, than the group of patients who were less satisfied. In conclusion, life satisfaction predicts emotional wellbeing of patients with ischemic heart disease and it enhances the implementation of appropriate strategies to cope with the disease. Moreover, although life satisfaction has been considered a stable measure, we suggest it may change as the experience of illness limits individuals' important goals.

Keywords: life satisfaction, adjustment strategies, coping, emotional distress, cardiovascular disease.

Cincuenta y dos varones que acababan de sufrir algún episodio de cardiopatía isquémica por primera vez informaron del grado de satisfacción con su vida, las estrategias empleadas para ajustarse a la enfermedad y los síntomas de ansiedad y depresión que sentían. Los análisis de regresión múltiple realizados mostraron que el malestar emocional se asociaba con una menor satisfacción vital; y en el caso de la ansiedad, se añadía una tendencia a utilizar en mayor medida estrategias negativas de ajuste. Finalmente, se obtuvo una interacción significativa satisfacción vital x tipo de ajuste a la enfermedad, indicando que los pacientes más satisfechos utilizaban más el ajuste adaptativo que los menos satisfechos, y tendían a utilizar menos que estos últimos el ajuste negativo. Puede concluirse que la satisfacción predice el bienestar emocional de los pacientes con cardiopatía isquémica, facilitando la puesta en marcha de estrategias más adecuadas ante la enfermedad. Además se sugiere la posibilidad de que el nivel de satisfacción pueda variar con el tiempo a medida que la enfermedad limite metas importantes para el individuo.

Palabras clave: satisfacción vital, estrategias de ajuste, afrontamiento, malestar emocional, trastornos cardiovasculares.

Cardiovascular disorders (CVDs) are one of the main causes of death worldwide. It is estimated that 17 million people die yearly from these disorders, which is 30% of the global mortality. Of these deaths, around 7.5 million are from ischemic cardiopathy, which, along with deaths from cerebrovascular diseases, constitute the two main entities of mortality of cardiovascular etiology (World Health Organization, 2007). In Spain, there are about 70,000 new cases each year, it is the primary cause of death, and comprises 34% of all deaths (Medrano, Boix, Cerrato, & Ramírez, 2006). Due to these great numbers, the psychological, social, and economic consequences are enormous and they constitute a problem of incalculable magnitude. It is therefore not surprising that a great quantity of research is aimed at identification of the factors that contribute to the etiology and progression of CVDs, and that such knowledge has led to improvements in medical treatments and actions to modify the risk factors, all of which has allowed many people with these illnesses to survive. Despite all these advances, all the variables studied only explain less than half of the variance of the occurrence of these disorders, and so, attention has recently been paid to certain psychosocial factors, which also have some influence on the onset and development of the illness, as well as on patients' quality of life. Psychosocial variables can affect the cardiovascular system by means of physiological alterations and by their effect on the chosen lifestyles. …

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