[MOL] Caregivers' Coping Style Affects Health [00638] Medicine On Line

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[MOL] Caregivers' Coping Style Affects Health

 Caregivers' Coping Style Affects Health
    [08/07/2000; Reuters News Service]

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - How you cope with your problems
can have a direct impact on your physical health,
according to a report in the August issue of the Journal of Personality
and Social Psychology. ``Certain coping strategies can lead to
an increase in negative mood--like feeling anxious, tense or
depressed. This can then lead to an increase in physical symptoms
including stomach pain, chest colds, headache, stiffness and
back pain,'' Dr. Douglas W. Billings, a psychologist at St. Mary's
College of Maryland, told Reuters Health in an interview. The
research team conducted interviews with 253 homosexual men including
86 who were HIV positive and 167 who were HIV negative. All of
the men lived with a partner who had AIDS. The men were interviewed
every 2 months for a 2-year period. For comparison, a group of
61 HIV-positive men with healthy partners was also included. The
researchers examined coping mechanisms and how they related to
the health of the men who were acting as caregivers for their
partners. As caregivers, the men were involved in the day-to-day
personal care of their partners, performing tasks such as doing
laundry and fixing meals, as well as basic healthcare. Four types
of coping mechanisms were identified, according to Billings.
These include: active coping--directly dealing with problems
in a straightforward manner; social coping--talking about problems
with friends and family; cognitive avoidance--living in denial
about problems; and behavioral avoidance--using alcohol or drugs
to forget problems. ``The HIV-negative men who practiced social
coping showed a higher positive mood and a corresponding lower
frequency of negative physical symptoms,'' Billings said. ``The
same group of men who were in denial about their situation--those
practicing cognitive avoidance--showed more negative moods and
a higher frequency of physical symptoms.''

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