The relationship of ambivalent coping to depression symptoms and adjustment

James A. Fauerbach, John W. Lawrence, Amy G. Bryant, Jennifer H. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To assess the influence of mental distancing and venting emotions on depressive symptoms and health-related quality of life (HRQOL). Participants: Seventy-six individuals hospitalized with acute burn injuries. Design: Prospective longitudinal study. Measures: Beck Depression Inventory (A. T. Beck, E. Ward, M. Mendelson, J. Mock, & J. Erbaugh, 1961), COPE (C. S. Carver, M. F. Scheier, & J. K. Weintraub, 1989), and Short Form-36 Health Survey (J. E. Ware, K. K. Snow, M. Kosinski, & B. Gandek, 1993). Results: Ambivalent coping at baseline (i.e., using both mental distancing and venting emotions, relative to using only 1 or neither) led to more symptoms of depression at follow-up, even when baseline symptoms were controlled. Ambivalent coping was related to postburn psychosocial HRQOL, and baseline symptoms of depression only slightly attenuated this relationship. Conclusions: Ambivalent coping appears to result from vacillation between motives. Decreasing inconsistent coping or reducing antithetical motivation may reduce depression and improve adjustment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)387-401
Number of pages15
JournalRehabilitation Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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