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J Clin Psychol Med Settings. 2011 Dec;18(4):372-9. doi: 10.1007/s10880-011-9265-0.

Adversarial growth in patients with multiple sclerosis and their partners: relationships with illness perceptions, disability and distress.

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Department of Psychology, Clinical Psychology Unit, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK.


The purpose of this study was to investigate whether patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and their partners show adversarial growth and to examine which psychological and disability variables contribute to this in patients and their partners. The study also investigated the relationship between growth and distress. Seventy-two patients with MS and their partners provided demographic information and completed measures of posttraumatic growth, illness perceptions, depression, cognitive function and disability. Both patients and partners showed adversarial growth, with patients reporting significantly higher growth than partners. The only significant predictor for patient growth was partner growth, and vice versa. Dissimilarity in illness representations between patients and their partners on the consequences of MS dimension, patient mood and patient growth accounted for significant variance in partner growth. The findings support the idea of a 'communal search for meaning' where patients and their partners experience the trauma of having a chronic illness and subsequently find positive aspects together.

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