Psychological Impact of Illness Downturns: A Comparison of New and Chronic Conditions

Kristi J. Erdal, Alex J. Zautra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Older adults (N = 166) who had chronic arthritis, a chronic vision problem, new arthritis symptoms, or a new vision problem were compared with older adult controls on psychological distress and well-being. The psychological impacts of new versus chronic illness stressors, and stressors associated with arthritis versus vision loss, were examined. The chronic arthritis group had the greatest psychological distress, the least well-being, and the greatest self-reported pain. Results supported an additivity theory approach to chronic illness and not an anticipatory coping approach. Differences in level of pain accounted in part for elevations in distress but did not explain differences between groups in psychological well-being. Positive affect was found to be the indicator of well-being that best differentiated groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)570-577
Number of pages8
JournalPsychology and aging
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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