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coping, depression, heart failure



  1. Vollman, Michael W. PhD, RN
  2. LaMontagne, Lynda L. DNSc, RN
  3. Hepworth, Joseph T. PhD


Background and Research Objective: This study used process coping theory as the basis for investigating how coping strategies are associated with depressive symptoms in individuals living with heart failure (HF). Demographic factors also were examined as correlates of depressive symptoms.


Subjects and Methods: The convenience sample of adults living with HF (n = 75) who participated in this study ranged in age from 27 to 82 years (M = 55). Sixty-nine percent of the participants were men, 59% were married or partnered, with the majority being Caucasian and from the middle class. Subjects were recruited from a comprehensive HF program located within an academic health science center in the southeastern United States. A single wave of data collection occurred. All study questionnaires were verbally administered in a clinic room selected for privacy during a routine HF clinic visit.


Results and Conclusion: Individuals who used more planful problem-solving and social support seeking coping strategies had fewer depressive symptoms, whereas individuals who used more escape-avoidance coping (eg, wishful thinking) had more depressive symptoms. When demographic factors also were included in a regression analysis assessing depressive symptoms, marital status, functional impairment, and the coping strategies of planful problem-solving and escape-avoidance were all statistically significant predictors of depression. Single individuals, those who used more escape-avoidance, less planful problem-solving coping, and more functional impairment had more depressive symptoms. These results suggest that psychosocial factors, in addition to physical parameters, and the ways individuals cope with the stressors of living with heart failure may be important predictors of depressive symptoms.