Anticipatory coping: How women deal with the hassles of living with multiple sclerosis

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Disability and Rehabilitation




Taylor and Francis


School of Nursing and Midwifery




Ministry of Health and Medical Education, Iran


Keramat Kar, M., Whitehead, L., Smith, C. M., Seaton, P., & Mozhdehipanah, H. (2022). Anticipatory coping: How women deal with the hassles of living with multiple sclerosis. Disability and Rehabilitation, 44(3), 449-457. https://doi.org/10.1080/09638288.2020.1770872


© 2020, © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Background: People living with MS confront a variety of changes and challenges that need to cope with. The aim of this study was to explore the coping patterns related to the impact of MS on people’s lives including; daily, family, and social functions. Methods: A constructivist grounded theory approach was taken. A purposive sample of 16 women living with MS were recruited from a MS clinic at a teaching hospital in the north of Iran. Participants completed 22 semi-structured interviews. The interviews were digitally recorded, transcribed and analyzed using initial, focused and theoretical coding. Results: Participants described coping with a certain pattern that reflected direction and orientation of coping. Anticipating outcomes related to disease, self or others led the participants to plan ahead to deal with the challenges of living with MS. Indeed, they develop and employed anticipatory coping in disease-directed, self-directed and other-directed. Then they focused on the orientation of coping patterns, which involved actions, reactions, and interactions in order to manage anticipated outcomes. Conclusion: The majority of participants used coping pattern that were anticipatory rather than a reactionary to past or present challenges. The results highlight the value of engaging with people with MS in order to identify ways that they cope with the impact of this condition. This is an important distinction and one that health professionals not only need to be aware of but highlights the value of engaging with people with MS in this frame to develop informed and positive approaches to anticipated outcomes and in responding to anticipated changes and challenges.IMPLICATIONS FOR REHABILITATION People develop the pattern of anticipatory coping in order to deal with issues related to the disease, self and others that they anticipate will happen in order to manage potential dysfunctions related to living with multiple sclerosis. People living with MS employ anticipatory coping based on existing and anticipated abilities and disabilities in order to maintain normality for as long as possible in daily, family and social activities. Proactive approaches to dealing with MS can be promoted in a number of ways, for example through support groups, social media or the development of networks with the aim of providing peer support and education. Developing rehabilitation programmes that reflect individual responses to living with MS would improve the ability of healthcare systems to meet clients’ needs related to adjusting to living with a chronic condition.



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