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The prevalence of food allergy is increasing, with adolescents and young adults being the group most likely to die from food-induced anaphylaxis. Behavioral and psychological factors contribute to this risk. This study investigated the relationship between illness uncertainty (as measured by the Mishel Uncertainty in Illness Scale Community Form) and emotion- and problem-focused coping (as measured by the Ways of Coping Scale), to see if they contributed to psychological adjustment (as measured by the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale-21) in this population. A cognitive diathesis-stress model was used to explain individual differences in adjustment. Multiple regression was used to test illness uncertainty and coping as moderators and mediators of psychological adjustment. Participants (N = 36) were recruited from Internet support groups and social networking sites; the survey was administered online. Illness uncertainty was predictive of psychological adjustment among the entire sample as well as the portions of the sample with more episodes of anaphylaxis and those with exercise-induced anaphylaxis. Emotion-focused coping was positively and significantly associated with depression, anxiety, and stress. Both emotion- and problem-focused coping were significant and positively related to the increased anxiety associated with the number of episodes. This study contributes to positive social change by helping medical practitioners and families recognize characteristics associated with poorer psychological adjustment. Uncertainty will remain a feature of this illness until a treatment or cure is found, but these results can help individuals, families, and providers understand and mitigate specific aspects of uncertainty.
Cohen, Susan J., "Illness Uncertainty, Ways of Coping, and Psychological Adjustment Among 18--25-Year-Olds with Anaphylactic Food Allergy" (2010). Walden Dissertations and Doctoral Studies. 838.