Coping has been defined as the behavioural and cognitive efforts a person uses to manage the demands of a stressful situation ( Chang & Strunk,1999). Coping Style is determined by the individuals learned response to stressful events and how the person analyzes and attributes to the situation. Stress affects both physical and psychological health.
A group of Patients suffering from Somatoform Pain Disorder (N=60) are studied and COMPARED to so-called Normal population (N=60). MBMD (Millon’s Behavioural Medicine Diagnostic) scale was used for this purpose. Results indicates that patient groups use mostly maladaptive (disengagement) coping strategies or emotion based coping to deal with their emotional distress, such as redirecting their attention, seeking social support or sympathy, or avoiding or denying the problem instead of problem based coping. Gender, age, duration of illness and nature of onset were found to have significant impact on coping. Marital status does not have any statistically significant impact on coping style, though characteristic coping patterns of the groups are different. Stress Moderators (Cognitive Appraisal, Patient’s Resources and Contextual Factors) are found to have a significant determining role in choosing a particular coping style , which might result in exacerbating or worsening the course of illness. Expectation of miraculous recovery without any effort to work out underlying psychological issues are seen both in male and female. The patient populations (both male and female ) are found to have a tendency to magnify their psychological problems, also considered as “cry for help”(Debasement). Among all health compromising behavior, overuse of prescribed medication(Drug), tendency to do self medication and greater likelihood for leading a sedentary life ( Inactivity) were found to be notably high both in male and female patient populations, compared to normal population, High Illness Apprehension , Pain Sensitivity, Functional Deficit and Future Pessimism all are linked with improper use of health services and leading to more complication concerning treatment outcome. Lack of support and empathetic understandings from family members has significant negative influence on Illness Behaviour. Belief regarding the cause of illness has a significant role with regard to help seeking behavior. Lack of awareness regarding the underlying psychogenic cause and serious hindrances(psychological block and social stigma attached to it) in accepting it , also influence the help seeking behaviour of the patient group. The findings have serious implication in understanding and managing patients suffering from Somatoform Disorder and also handling their illness behaviour.