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Coping with stress and illness

Hamilton-West, Kate (2003) Coping with stress and illness. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94394) (KAR id:94394)


Research evidence suggests that coping may intervene in the relationship between stress and illness. This research has important implications in the medical context, in that it necessitates a focus on the patient, rather than just the underlying illness and suggests that psychological interventions may be as important as medical interventions for attaining optimal health outcomes. The coping concept is also central to the biopsychosocial model of illness, in which it is recognised that health may be affected not only by biological factors (eg. a virus, genetic predisposition), but also by psychological factors (eg. personality and coping style) and social factors (eg. the social resources available to aid coping). However, researchers have also noted that the concept of coping is lacking in conceptual clarity and in the availability of adequate methods of measurement. This thesis therefore aimed to address these limitations and to assess the effectiveness of a coping-based intervention for improving physical and psychological well-being in a sample of patients with a chronic illness. Five studies are presented. The first four are aimed at developing a valid method of coping assessment. Study I (N=51) examines descriptions of real-life coping episodes, in order to consider the types of phenomena that ‘belong’ to the coping concept. Study II (N=132) translates these descriptions into items for a situation-response scale, and examines interrelationships between coping responses. Relationships between coping scores, psychological and social variables are examined in Study III (N=102), and relationships between coping scores and biological variables explored in Study IV (N=21). The final study (N=68) represents a practical application of the coping measure developed in studies 1-4 using a patient population. Relationships between dispositional coping style and the strategies used on a daily basis to cope with the on-going effects of a chronic illness are examined. The implications of dispositional and daily coping for health outcomes in this group of patients are also investigated and a coping-based intervention applied. The theoretical and practical implications of this research are discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Quine, Lyn
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94394
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 25 April 2022 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: biopsychosocial model of illness, health services, community care services
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 02 Mar 2023 10:19 UTC
Last Modified: 02 Mar 2023 10:20 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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