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Psychol Health. 2013 Jan;29(1):81-93. doi: 10.1080/08870446.2013.828294. Epub 2013 Aug 13.

Illness representations as mediators of the relationship between dispositional optimism and depression in patients with chronic tinnitus: a cross-sectional study.

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a Department of Health Psychology , University of Hagen , Hagen , Germany .



Both dispositional optimism and illness representations are related to psychological health in chronic patients. In a group of chronic tinnitus sufferers, the interplay between these two variables was examined. Specifically, it was tested to what extent the relationship between dispositional optimism and depression is mediated by more positive illness representations.


The study had a cross-sectional design. One hundred and eighteen patients diagnosed with chronic tinnitus completed questionnaires assessing optimism (Life Orientation Test-Revised [LOT-R]), illness representations (Illness Perceptions Questionnaire-Revised [IPQ-R]) and depression (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale [HADS]).


Correlation analysis showed that optimism was associated with more positive illness representations and lower levels of depression. Simple mediation analyses revealed that the relationship between optimism and depression was partially mediated by the illness representation dimensions consequences, treatment control, coherence, emotional representations and internal causes. A multiple mediation analysis indicated that the total mediation effect of illness representations is particularly due to the dimension consequences.


Optimism influences depression in tinnitus patients both directly and indirectly. The indirect effect indicates that optimism is associated with more positive tinnitus-specific illness representations which, in turn, are related to less depression. These findings contribute to a better understanding of the interplay between generalised expectancies, illness-specific perceptions and psychological adjustment to medical conditions.

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