Stress and coping responses to a natural disaster in people with schizophrenia.

Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.
Psychiatry Research (Impact Factor: 2.68). 06/2007; 151(1-2):77-86. DOI: 10.1016/j.psychres.2006.10.009
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Investigations of how individuals with schizophrenia differ from non-patients in their responses to stressful life events are subject to the criticism that any between-group differences might merely reflect differences in the types of stressful events that each group experiences. This report presents new analyses of data collected from schizophrenia patients (n=96), bipolar disorder patients (n=18), and healthy controls (n=18) immediately after the Northridge Earthquake that struck Southern California in 1994, a natural experiment that confronted all groups with the same stressful event. Participants completed the Impact of Events Scale (IES; [Horowitz, M.J., Wilner, N., Alvarez, W., 1979. Impact of Events Scale. A measure of subjective stress. Psychosomatic Medicine 41, 209-218]) at 1 week and 5 weeks post-earthquake. At the 5-week follow-up, measures of coping, social support, and self-esteem were also completed. Both patient groups reported higher IES avoidance symptoms than controls immediately after the earthquake. The schizophrenia group also reported lower approach coping, self-esteem, and social support than controls, with the bipolar group reporting intermediate levels. Within the schizophrenia group, higher levels of avoidance coping predicted higher residual stress symptoms at follow-up. Results support the validity of prior reports of altered responses to stressful life events in schizophrenia and demonstrate the clinical relevance of individual differences in coping among affected individuals.

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