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June 1986

Coping Behaviors as Predictors of the Course of Clinical Depression

Author Affiliations

From the Schools of Psychiatry (Dr Parker and Ms Blignault) and Psychology (Dr Brown), University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1986;43(6):561-565. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1986.01800060055007

• We assessed a large sample of nonmelancholic, depressed subjects, using a self-report measure we developed, to determine behavioral coping dimensions and the predictive validity of the measure. A principal-components analysis of measure scores suggested dimensions of distraction, support seeking, self-consolation, recklessness, affect reduction, and help seeking, largely replicating findings in nonclinical groups. Factor scores on each dimension were calculated for the subsample of depressive subjects consulting a psychiatrist. Those baseline scores were examined against subse quent improvement in depression levels at six and 20 weeks. A significant and consistent predictor of a poor outcome was a higher initial score on the self-consolation dimension. A better outcome was weakly associated at six and 20 weeks with higher scores on affect reduction, whereas higher distraction scores were weakly associated with a poorer outcome at 20 weeks. The study thus confirmed the relevance of coping behaviors in a clinically depressed group and demonstrated the predictive strength of the measure.