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P450 A gender comparison of the association between coping strategies and perceived social support in Crohn’s disease patients

O. Sarid1, V. Slomin-Nevo1, D. Greenberg2, M. Friger3, D. Schwartz4, H. Vardi2, R. Sergienko3, E. Chernin3, S. Odes*5

1Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Social Work, Beer Sheva, Israel, 2Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Health Systems Management, Beer Sheva, Israel, 3Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Public Health, Beer Sheva, Israel, 4Soroka University Hospital, Gastroenterology, Beer Sheva, Israel, 5Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Gastroenterology, Beer Sheva, Israel

Background

Research suggests that in chronic illnesses, positive coping strategies and perceived social support enhance the patients’ well-being. However, less is known about the potential link between coping strategies and social support amongst Crohn’s disease (CD) patients. Further, there are gender differences in how persons cope in stressful situations. We therefore examined the association between coping strategies and perceived social support in CD patients, separately for men and women.

Methods

Israeli adult Crohn’s disease patients were recruited consecutively from outpatient IBD clinics at 5 teaching hospitals, and via the patients’ organisation on the Internet. Patients completed a questionnaire comprising a series of measures, as follows: BRIEF COPE (measures coping strategies in chronic disease), Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS, measures degree of social support), Harvey–Bradshaw Index (specific CD severity scale), and demography. Data are means ± SD.

Results

The cohort comprised 84 men (36.8%) and 144 women (63.2%). The mean age was 34.9 ± 11.5 years in men and 40.2 ± 14.3 in women (p = 0.006). Disease duration was 11.1 ± 8.9 in men and 11.3 ± 9.0 in women (NS). The MSPSS total scale score was 68.0 ± 13.7 amongst men and 70.6 ± 14.4 amongst women (p = 0.054), indicating a trend to a higher level of perceived social support amongst women. Social support was greater with a higher economic status, and lower in more severe disease.

Table 1 Correlations between MSPSS and demographic and medical variables

VariableCorr coeff, menCorr coeff, women
Age-0.050-0.067
Economic status0.327 (p < 0.01)0.177 (p < 0.05)
Harvey–Bradshaw Index-0.248 (p < 0.05)-0.210 (p < 0.05)
Disease duration0.202-0.016

Table 2 Correlation between MSPSS and COPE scales

COPE scaleCorr coeff, menCorr coeff, women
Self-distraction-0.222 (p < 0.05)-0.057
Denial-0.219 (p < 0.05)-0.128
Use of emotional support-0.0650.379 (p < 0.01)
Behavioural 
disengagement-0.332 (p < 0.01)-0.134
Venting-0.399 (p < 0.01)0.154
Religion-.0271 (p < 0.05)-0.009
Self-blame-0.424 (p < 0.01)-0.106

Women who cope with CD through the use of emotional support tended to report a high level of perceived social support. Men, however, who used coping strategies such as self-distraction, denial, behavioural disengagement, venting, religion, and self-blame, reported a lower level of social support. Men, unlike women, tended to employ negative coping mechanisms.

Conclusion

Coping and social support in this CD cohort demonstrated different associations in men and women. The correlations in men were all negative, indicating diminished social support. It may be important to teach CD patients, and particularly men, positive coping strategies that will assist them in coping with the disease and enhance their perceived social support.