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    Understanding coping strategies among people living with scleroderma: a focus group study.

    Disabil Rehabil 2017 Aug 17:1-10. Epub 2017 Aug 17.
    a Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research , Jewish General Hospital , Montréal , Canada.
    Purpose: Systemic sclerosis or scleroderma is a chronic, rare connective tissue disease with negative physical and psychological implications. Coping strategies used by scleroderma patients have not been studied in-depth. The objective of the present study was to gain a greater understanding of the coping strategies employed by people living with scleroderma.

    Method: Three semi-structured focus group discussions were conducted with a total of 22 people with scleroderma. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using content analysis. Coping strategies discussed were analyzed through Lazarus and Folkman's theoretical model of coping, including: (1) problem-focused, (2) emotion-focused, and (3) meaning-focused coping.

    Results: Participants reported using a combination of problem-focused (e.g., professional help; seeking disease-related information), emotion-focused (e.g., social support; adaptive distraction techniques), and meaning-focused coping strategies (e.g., benefit finding; goal reappraisal) to help them to cope with and manage their disease. However, many patients reported having difficulty in accessing support services.

    Conclusions: Scleroderma patients use similar coping strategies as patients with more common diseases, but they may not have access to the same level of support services. Accessible interventions, including self-management programs, aimed at improving problem- and emotion-focused coping are needed. Further, increased access to support groups may provide patients with opportunities to obtain social support and enhance coping.
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