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Personality: impact on health, coping, psychological well-being and QOL

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  • Personality: impact on health, coping, psychological well-being and QOL

    Type D folks, watch out. - D

    It's all about personality: its impact on health, coping, psychological well-being and quality of life

    L. Strober, A. Costanzo, J. DeLuca, N. Chiaravalloti
    Kessler Foundation, West Orange, NJ, United States

    Background: It is well appreciated that personality plays a role on one's health, well-being, and perceptions and management of their illness. Previously, the concept of a “Type D or Distressed” Personality has been described as a combination of higher levels of neuroticism and lower levels of extraversion/social discomfort. Medical patients with a Type D Personality have been found to have poorer health outcomes, greater psychological difficulties, greater reports of fatigue, and overall reduced quality of life.

    Objective: The purpose of the present study was to determine the incidence of Type D Personality and examine its impact on health, coping, psychological functioning, and overall quality of life in a multiple sclerosis (MS) sample.

    Method: Two hundred and thirty individuals with MS were administered measures of personality. Thirty seven (16%) were found to be “Type D+.” Participants completed measures of disease symptoms, disease management, psychological functioning, self-efficacy, locus of control (LOC), and quality of life.

    Results: “Type D” individuals reported greater levels of fatigue (p < .001) and pain (p = .001). They reported lower levels of provider relationship and communication (p = .026), perceived self-efficacy in managing their MS (p < .001), and poorer adherence (p =.030). They also employed maladaptive coping styles such as mental disengagement (p = .007), behavioral disengagement (p < .001), denial (p = .002), venting emotions (p < .001), and substance use (p < .001). In contrast, they were less likely to use adaptive coping such as planning (p = .015), active coping (p = .018), and positive interpretation and growth (p = .002). “Type D +” individuals reported a lower sense of general self-efficacy (p < .001) and LOC (p < .001) and greater depression (p < .001) and anxiety (p < .001). They also reported a lower satisfaction with life (p < .001) and greater perceived stress (p < .001). Finally, with regard to functional outcomes, a greater percentage of those considering leaving the workforce were found to be “Type D.”
    (χ2 = 4.22, p = .040).

    Conclusions: Consistent with the literature in other medical populations, the existence of Type D Personality is associated with several negative outcomes in MS. Given this, consideration and assessment of personality traits appears warranted in hopes of assuring optimal outcomes and tailoring one's interventions.
    Dave Bexfield