The effects of age and type of illness on coping with arthritis and well -being

Jessica M McIlvane, Fordham University


The purpose of the proposed research was to examine the effects of age on coping and well-being in middle-aged and older females from a life-span developmental perspective. OA in middle-age was viewed as a non-normative life event and OA in old age was viewed as a normative life event. This study also sought to clarify the measurement of coping in response to inconsistent findings in the coping literature. Thirty-two middle-aged women and 68 older women completed face-to-face interviews that assessed coping, functional status, pain, illness duration, depressive symptoms, life satisfaction, mood, and health status. Respondents reported relatively high income levels with 48% reporting more than $60,000 and 59% of participants were college graduates. Ninety-one percent were White or Caucasian and 9% were either Black/African American, Asian, or other. Forty-one percent were married and 54% reported living alone. Hierarchical regression and structural models were used to examine the effects of active, passive, cognitive and emotional coping on well-being after accounting for pain, functional status, illness duration, and age. Regression analyses showed that pain, active coping, and passive coping were significant predictors of depressive symptoms. For life satisfaction, functional impairment, illness duration and passive coping were significant predictors. Finally, functional impairment and passive coping were significant predictors of mood. The structural model of illness status, coping and well-being did not fit particularly well, however the model showed that coping and illness status accounted for a moderate amount of variance in well-being. The results suggest that passive coping and functional impairment are the biggest contributors to well-being. Age does not seem to be a factor for well-being for this sample. Middle-aged and older women in this sample might not be very different from one another based on socioeconomic factors (i.e., income, education). Confirmatory factor analysis showed that the four aspects of coping were interrelated. It is not clear if this finding means that there is one basic concept of coping that explains all. Passive coping was related to poor well-being for this sample, but it is not clear if passive coping tells the whole story. Therefore, the measurement of coping requires further clarification.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology|Psychotherapy|Gerontology

Recommended Citation

McIlvane, Jessica M, "The effects of age and type of illness on coping with arthritis and well -being" (2001). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3017556.