Personality, cognitive appraisals, and coping as predictors of psychological distress in spouses of stroke patients

Madelon Flickstein, Fordham University


While some research has been conducted to determine how spouses adjust to their husband or wife's stroke, none has focused on the period immediately after the patient has been transferred from an acute-care hospital to an in-patient rehabilitation facility. A spouse's initial response to this situation may predict future functioning and this adjustment may impact on the patient's response to physical rehabilitation (e.g., Carnwath & Johnson, 1987).^ In addition, the variables of cognitive appraisals and coping and their relationship to adaptation have not been examined in regard to this population at this time-point. Further, based upon the recommendation of McCrae and Costa (1986) the decision was made to include neuroticism in the analyses since they believe that it might provide a powerful alternative explanation for adjustment to stressful life events. This study examined the direct and indirect effect of neuroticism on psychological distress, mediated by appraisals and coping strategies. Additionally, the "goodness of fit hypothesis" (Forsythe & Compas, 1987) was examined.^ Subjects were 100 spouses of stroke patients who completed measures of personality, cognitive appraisals, coping strategies, and adaptation. A path analysis was conducted to determine the relationships among the independent and dependent variables. The results indicated that neuroticism did directly and indirectly, mediated by threat appraisals, appraisals of low controllability, and the use of emotion-focused coping strategies, explain over 50% of the variability in psychological distress.^ In order to examine the fit between cognitive appraisals, coping strategies, and outcome two-way ANOVAs were conducted. Results did not support the goodness of fit hypothesis. Only emotion-focused coping and the proportion of emotion-focused to problem-focused coping contributed to the variability in psychological distress. ^

Subject Area

Behavioral psychology|Clinical psychology|Personality psychology

Recommended Citation

Flickstein, Madelon, "Personality, cognitive appraisals, and coping as predictors of psychological distress in spouses of stroke patients" (1994). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9511233.