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N. Duponsel, W. Wittich, N. Robillard, O. Overbury; Barriers to Vision Rehabilitation: Factors Related to Coping Strategies in Individuals With Low-Vision. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2010;51(13):3636.
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Coping strategies are an important factor in the ability to adapt well to any major life event. Vision loss represents one of the most significant life-altering events to which it can be extremely difficult to adapt. Data from the Montreal Barriers to Vision Rehabilitation study were analyzed to determine which factors were significantly related to adaptive or maladaptive coping strategies. A better understanding of the factors involved in good or poor coping can aid eye-care professionals to better identify patients at risk for poorer coping strategies.
Demographic data from 620 participants were analyzed. Participants were interviewed regarding their demographic characteristics and their perceived visual function. They also responded to four psychosocial evaluation scales, one of which was the Brief COPE, an abbreviated version of the COPE Inventory. This 28-question scale assesses 14 coping strategies, 10 of which are adaptive and 4 maladaptive.
Marital status, living dependency (whether an individual is able to live independently or is dependent on others), education, awareness of vision rehabilitation services, and severity of visual impairment were all found to be significant factors in coping strategies. For example, participants with higher levels of education were significantly more likely to demonstrate acceptance of their current situation involving their vision impairment (p<0.05), whereas those with less education were more likely to demonstrate denial (p<0.01). Furthermore, individuals who were aware of vision rehabilitation services were more likely to demonstrate adaptive coping strategies such as active coping (p<0.05), the use of emotional support (p<0.01) and acceptance (p<0.01).
Factors such as education, the severity of visual impairment, and the social support that an individual receives were found to be significantly related to the coping strategies that were used. Understanding such factors can help eye-care professionals identify patients who may be at risk for poorer coping skills. Research has suggested that individuals are better able to adjust to their vision impairment the sooner they receive the aid of rehabilitation professionals. Thus, it is important that individuals who are less likely to use positive, proactive strategies of coping be identified and offered the assistance that they need as soon as possible following their diagnosis of visual impairment.
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