Successfully coping with a chronic disease depends significantly on social support, particularly that of a significant other. Thus, it depends on the ways of dealing with stress within a couple (dyadic coping). In this study, the relationship between dyadic coping and well-being was investigated among couples in which one partner suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
A total of 43 couples participated. They were mailed questionnaires on anxiety and depression (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale), quality of life (World Health Organization Quality of Life Questionnaire-BREF), and dyadic coping (Dyadic Coping Inventory).
Low scores of positive and high scores of negative dyadic coping were associated with poorer quality of life and higher psychological distress among couples. Delegated coping (assistance with daily tasks) was higher among partners. When estimated by patients, high delegated partner coping (frequent provision of support by partners) and low delegated personal coping (low provision of support by patients) were associated with poorer quality of life for both patient and partner. COPD patients suffering from depression were supported more often and attributed deficits in dyadic coping primarily to themselves, whereas partners with higher scores of depression provided higher estimates of both their own negative coping and the negative coping of their partner.
The higher the patient perceived the imbalance in delegated dyadic coping, the lower the couple’s quality of life. More negative and less positive dyadic coping were associated with lower quality of life and higher psychological distress. Psychotherapeutic interventions to improve dyadic coping may lead to better quality of life and less psychological distress among COPD patients and their partners.