Distress in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: The role of attachment, illness representations, and coping

Signe Simon-Coulter, Fordham University


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a chronic female endocrine disorder that affects approximately 1 in 10 women. PCOS is a leading cause of infertility and symptoms may negatively affect appearance and psychological well-being. Research linking attachment to illness experiences provides strong support for the important influence of attachment on illness representations and coping decisions, which ultimately influence both psychological and physical well-being. Research on coping with PCOS is very limited and the specific influence of attachment has not been explored. This study examined the relationship among the variables of anxious and avoidant attachment, PCOS illness threat, hyperactivating and deactivating coping, and psychological distress in a sample of 183 women aged 25 to 45 diagnosed with PCOS. Hierarchical multiple linear regressions were used to examine the relationship among variables and mediation effects. Results indicated that anxious attachment predicted hyperactivating and deactivating coping and distress, but not illness threat. Avoidant attachment predicted deactivating coping and illness threat. Hyperactivating and deactivating coping partially mediated anxious attachment and distress. Deactivating coping partially mediated avoidant attachment and distress. Results provide evidence for the detrimental psychological impact that may result from the use of deactivating and hyperactivating coping among women diagnosed with PCOS. Implications, limitations, and recommendations for future research are discussed.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Simon-Coulter, Signe, "Distress in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: The role of attachment, illness representations, and coping" (2017). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10259531.