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Psychol Med. 1990 Feb;20(1):125-35.

Gender, coping and psychosomatic symptoms.

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Department of Medical Psychology, Free University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


In this study gender differences in coping were explored, using the Ways of Coping Checklist (WCC; Folkman & Lazarus, 1980). In addition, the focus was on sex differences in the predictive value of coping strategies in relation to psychosomatic symptoms. Males preferred problem-focused coping strategies, planned and rational actions, positive thinking, personal growth and humour, day-dreaming and fantasies. Women preferred emotion-focused coping solutions, self-blame, expression of emotions/seeking of social support, and wishful thinking/emotionality. In spite of the gender differences the results of multiple regression analyses indicated congruous relationships between coping and complaints for both sexes. Stressors and coping factors contributed in much the same way to the explained variance of symptoms and the results were generally similar for males and females. The present data also emphasize the bidirectionality of the coping-symptoms link. This holds especially for self-blame, day-dreaming and fantasizing, and wishful thinking/emotionality. In contrast, distancing was found to be associated with self-reported psychosocial load. Future prospective studies should explicitly pay attention to this bidirectional relationship.

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