Coping, cognitive appraisals, optimism, gender, and age as correlates of depression and anxiety in myocardial infarction patients

Karen Saul Miller, Fordham University


Patients who experience depression and anxiety in the first days and weeks after myocardial infarction (MI) have been found to be at a greater risk for mortality and more likely to have recurrences of acute coronary syndromes than patients who do not experience depression or anxiety. While there are many studies which focus on long-term physical and psychological consequences of MI, there is a dearth of studies which examine how patients appraise the meaning of MI and cope with the event in the days immediately following MI, despite its identification as medically critical time period. Participants were 100 patients who suffered a MI within the previous 7 days. The post-MI participants completed measures of coping, cognitive appraisal, optimism, and psychological distress. Descriptive statistics were calculated to determine the nature and intensity of psychological distress and the types of coping strategies used. A multiple regression analysis was conducted to determine the relationships among cognitive appraisals, optimism, gender, age, and depression and anxiety. The results indicated that approximately 35% of the sample experienced clinically significant levels of depression and anxiety. The most commonly used coping strategies were acceptance of the problem and seeking social support. Exploratory correlations were conducted among coping strategies and depression and anxiety. Four coping strategies were positively correlated with depression and anxiety: (a) accepting responsibility, (b) escape-avoidance, (c) positive reappraisal, and (d) self-controlling. Thirty-three percent of the variance in depression and anxiety was explained by optimism, threat/harm appraisals, and age. Optimism was negatively associated with depression and anxiety, and was the strongest predictor in the model. Younger participants in the sample experienced higher levels of depression and anxiety than older participants. Threat/harm appraisals were also positively correlated with depression and anxiety. Challenge appraisals and gender did not account for any variance depression and anxiety. Recommendations for future research with post-MI patients and implications for the growing field of health psychology were discussed.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Mental health

Recommended Citation

Miller, Karen Saul, "Coping, cognitive appraisals, optimism, gender, and age as correlates of depression and anxiety in myocardial infarction patients" (1997). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9809018.