The with a chronic illness many try and

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Last updated: May 18, 2019

Thepurpose of the assignment is to discuss and evaluate the role ofrepresentation in the process of coping and the psychological adjustment toliving with a chronic illness/disease.

When an individual is diagnosed with a chronic illness or disease their life ischanged in many ways. The individual’s physical, mental health, personal andsocial aspects of their lives are affected by the illness/disease. The chronic conditionalso ruins the individual’s quality of life and wellbeing. Human beings learn tocope with emotional and physical issues at a very young age by learning fromprevious events which initiate the coping response. The assignment will describe the different psychologist’s theories oncoping and explore their effectiveness in chronic illnesses.

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There willbe brief definitions throughout the paper and discussions and evaluations on differentresearch papers related to the chronic illnesses HIV and AIDS.  The HumanImmunodeficiency Virus/ Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) is aworldwide epidemic, over 70 million people have been affected and 35 millionhave died from the disease. (Fajardo-Ortiz et al., 2017). A Chronic illness/diseaseis a disorder that persist for an extended amount of time (over 3 months) orhas no potential cure. (de Ridder, Geenen, Kuijer & van Middendorp, 2008). Arthritis,diabetes, cancer and HIV/AIDS are a few illustrations of chronic illnesses/diseasethat are long lasting and have no cure. When diagnosed with a chronic illnessmany try and find ways to cope with the illness and the consequences that occurwith the illness.

 Coping refers to thethoughts and behaviours individuals use to manage the internal and external demandsof stressful events. (Folkman, 2010). Coping is the response to diminish theemotional, physical and psychological effects that are linked with everydaystresses. (Snyder, 1999). Coping determines how an individual adapts to astressful event using cognitive and behavioural efforts. (Meade, Wang, Lin, Wu& Poppen, 2010).

Stress can be defined as a feeling which arises whenan individual perceives a disagreement between the social, physical orpsychological demands of a situation and the resources of an individual’sbiological, psychological or social systems. (Berto, 2014). There have been various psychologicalmodels developed on an individual’s response to a chronic illness.

Such models include,the stress-coping model, the illness representation model and the adjustmentmodel. (Dekker & de Groot, 2016). In 1984, psychologists Richard Lazarusand Susan Folkman proposed the Theory of Cognitive Appraisal model also knownas the Stress Theory, the theory explained the mental process which influencestressors. (Lazarus and Folkman, 1984). Lazarus andFolkman (1984) Theoryof Cognitive Appraisal suggests that there are two types of coping responses. (Lazarusand Folkman, 1984).

Emotion-focused coping is used to regulate negative emotionusing strategies such as, seeking emotional support, distancing andescape-avoidance, and problem-focused coping, which consistsof painful problem-solving, addressing the problem causing distress usingstrategies such as information gathering and decision making. (Folkman, 2010).Additionally, when faced with stress, individuals typically use both emotion-focusedand problem-focused coping strategies to manage their stress, as they can bothbe applied in any stressful situation. (Jensen, Forlini, Partridge & Hall,2016).

Nevertheless, individuals are dependent on the assessment of the situation(i.e., as a threat and or a challenge) to decide on which coping mechanism to adopt.(Berjot & Gillet, 2011).Emotion-focused copingstrategies involve trying to reduce the negative emotional responses associatedwith stressful events (i.e. embarrassment, fear, anxiety, depression and frustration).(Lazarus and Folkman, 1984).

However, emotion-focused coping (i.e. eating,drinking and taking drugs) are often less effective than using problem-focusedmethods in relation to health outcomes. (Penley,Tomaka, & Weibe, 2012). Emotion-focused coping does not provide a longterm solution. (Dijkstra & Homan, 2016). Although emotion-focused coping isthe better option when the cause of stress is out of an individual’s control. Problem-focused coping aimsto target the causes of stress in constructive ways, such as managing, tacklingor altering the cause of the stressful situation.

(Jensen,Forlini, Partridge & Hall, 2016). Unlike emotion-focused coping,problem-focused coping can provide a long-term solution, as it removes thestressor, and deals with the cause of the problem. (Jensen, Forlini, Partridge& Hall, 2016). However, there arepotential weaknesses with problem focused approaches as they do not work in anysituation where it is beyond the individual’s control in removing the source ofstress (i.e. sudden death), as problem-focused approaches work better when theperson can control the source of stress.

Chronic disease such as HIV/AIDSprovides an appropriate testing ground for Lazarus and Folkman (1984) copingtheory because some HIV-related stressors are either changeable or unchangeable.(Chesney, Chambers, Taylor, Johnson & Folkman, 2003). Individuals who arediagnosed and living with chronic disease such as HIV/AIDS experience a seriesof stressors, the stressors are caused by the diseases effects such as physicalsymptoms, medical treatments, medication side-effects, social difficulties anddiscrimination.

(Meade, Wang, Lin, Wu & Poppen,2010). Individuals who are diagnosed with HIV/AIDS reported having negativereactions towards the diagnosis, such as being shocked, scared or tense,depressed, and feeling suicidal after HIV diagnosis. (Chandra, Ravi, Desai& Subbakrishna, 1998). A research study exploredthe stress and coping of HIV-positive individuals and the effectiveness ofLazarus and Folkman’s (1984) coping strategies.

Participants had reporteda range of HIV-related stressors, participants who had experienced more severestress viewed HIV/AIDS as a threat to their overall health and well-being, whereassome participants viewed HIV/AIDS as less threatening to them. (Meade, Wang,Lin, Wu & Poppen, 2010). Although participants had reported using all typesof coping strategies, they were more likely to use problem-focused strategies (i.

e.problem solving, seeking support) rather than emotion-focused strategies (i.e.

avoidance,wishful thinking, and self-blaming). (Meade, Wang, Lin, Wu & Poppen,2010). The participants choice of the coping response was influenced by the individual’sjudgement of the situation as either changeable (i.e. controllable) or unchanging(i.e.

uncontrollable) thus, selecting the appropriate coping strategies that isspecific for the stressful situation. (Chesney, Chambers, Taylor, Johnson , 2003). 

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