PhD in Nursing Science Program

Michael W. Vollman

Personal and Situational Factors Influencing Coping and Depression in Adults with Heart Failure


Dissertation under the direction of Professor Lynda LaMontagne


The purpose of this dissertation research study was to explore personal, situational, and demographic factors that influence coping and depression in adults living with heart failure (HF). Understanding the psychosocial context of HF will provide investigators and clinicians with a deeper understanding of coping processes and health outcomes in this population.

A correlational, cross-sectional design was used to examine the hypothesized relationships in a convenience sample ( N = 75) of adults living with HF. All participants were recruited from a comprehensive heart institute located within an academic health science center in the southeast United States. Study participants were predominantly male (69.3%), Caucasian, 27 to 82 years of age, and experienced moderate to severe functional impairment due to their disease.

Six questionnaires were verbally administered: Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support, Ways of Coping Questionnaire, Spiritual Well-Being Scale, Control Attitudes Scale, Beck Depression Inventory, and Demographic Questionnaire. Participants completed the questionnaires following a scheduled clinic visit. Descriptive statistics, bivariate correlations and stepwise linear regression analyses were used to examine hypothesized relationships among study variables and demographic factors.

Perceived control and perceived social support had direct, negative effects on depression, while disease severity had a direct, positive effect on depression. Spiritual well-being and coping functions had indirect effects on depression. In addition to disease severity, influential demographic factors included gender, marital status, ethnicity, and illness duration

Perceived control, perceived social support, and disease severity were shown to predict depression in this sample of adults living with HF. The effects of coping functions on depression were potentially mediated or moderated by key study variables and demographic factors. Future study is needed to evaluate casual relationships between personal, situational, demographic factors, coping, and depression.