Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Psychology


School of Psychology


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Prof. Edward Helmes


This study addresses the extent to which coping strategies can predict emotional status amongst a sample of older adult hospital patients in Perth, Western Australia. Older people are frequently in hospitals because of the large number of serious health problems that are more common in this age group. Older people vary in how well they deal with illness, and negative emotional reactions can complicate medical care. The emotional states of depression, anxiety and somatic complaints were assessed in a group of 120 older adults from two Perth hospitals. Two questionnaires were administered: the Depression, Anxiety and Somatic Complaints subscales from the Personality Assessment Inventory and the Coping With Health Injuries and Problems Scale. Hierarchical regression analyses were the main technique employed to analyse the data. Results indicate that Negative Emotion Coping was a consistent and statistically significant predictor of all three psychological distress variables (ρ < .01). Furthermore, it was found that the coping predictors contributed the greatest proportion of the variance towards firstly depression (36.8%), secondly anxiety (30%) and thirdly somatic complaints (25.1%). Therefore coping strategies predict depression, anxiety and somatic complaints nevertheless, an exploratory perspective is assumed in this study. Theoretical and practical implications are also discussed with regard to the interaction between physical and mental health status within the process of adjusting to illness, and various psychotherapeutic interventions addressing the psychological aspects of physical illness.