Investigation into the psychological factors associated with adjustment in people with leg amputation

Reeves, Dawn (2000). Investigation into the psychological factors associated with adjustment in people with leg amputation. PhD thesis The Open University.



Adjustment difficulties can be a common problem for people with acquired physical disability. Depression can often be a sign that a person is having difficulties adjusting to and accepting change. One group of people with acquired disability are those who have had a limb amputated due to trauma, cancer, vascular disease or a congenital condition. People who have had an amputation are more likely develop depression than the general population. This study is an investigation into some of the factors (coping strategies, mood, and personality variables) associated with adjustment to amputation. Forty individuals with amputations were asked to complete a set of questionnaires and participate in a short taped interview. Coping strategies were measured using the COPE and personality variables were measured using the Structural Profile Inventory (SPI). Anxiety and depression were measured using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HAD). Life satisfaction was measured using the Life Satisfaction Index (A) (LSI). The HAD and LSI were used as indicators of possible adjustment difficulties. Short interviews were also conducted to find out about people's perception of the care that they had received and if these were related to coping strategies. Statistical analysis showed that two coping strategies, positive reinterpretation and growth, and humour, were both associated with higher levels of life satisfaction. Mental disengagement was associated with lower levels of life satisfaction. Personality variables were associated with coping strategies. Two personality variables (Behaviour and Affect) were related to life satisfaction and anxiety. Qualitative analysis of interviews showed that people valued the support of other amputees and wanted services to provide more access to information about the range of artificial limbs available to them. The findings supported the hypothesis that personality is related to the use of particular coping strategies. This could help inform clinical practice, psychological intervention, and physical rehabilitation programmes.

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