How do people adjust to chronic health conditions?

For individuals diagnosed with a chronic health condition, self-regulation is especially important for management of the condition and healthy psychological adjustment to maximize quality of life. Unlike one time traumatic events, living with a chronic health condition presents an ongoing challenge to existing beliefs and goals. To meet this challenge, the individual must negotiate a new self-concept that accounts for the limits of the ongoing health condition, while still preserving the need to strive for self-improvement and the motivation to reach important personal goals.

This research stream focuses on the role of self-regulatory factors such as control beliefs, self-perceptions and mental simulations in the adjustment process. Recent and ongoing research in the lab has focused on the implications of intra-personal temporal comparisons for adjustment and well-being. For example, we have been exploring how comparisons of the present self with past and future conceptions of the self may facilitate or block healthy adjustment to chronic health conditions. Research in the lab has focused on several different chronic health conditions including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD; Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis), arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and tinnitus.


Lab Publications on Adjustment to Chronic Health Conditions

Gick, M. L. & Sirois, F. M. (2010). Insecure attachment moderates women's adjustment to inflammatory bowel disease severity. Rehabilitation Psychology, 55, 170-179. abstract.

Sirois, F. M. (2009). Psychological adjustment to inflammatory bowel disease: The importance of considering disease activity. American Journal of Gastroenterology, 104, 2970-2972. abstract

Voth, J., & Sirois, F. M. (2009). The role of self-blame and responsibility in adjustment to inflammatory bowel disease. Rehabilitation Psychology, 54, 99-108. abstract

Wolfe, B., & Sirois, F. M. (2008). Beyond standard quality of life measures: The subjective experiences of living with inflammatory bowel disease. Quality of Life Research, 16, 877-886. abstract

Sirois, F. M.,Davis, C. G., & Morgan, M. (2006). "Learning to live with what you can't rise above": Control beliefs, symptom control, and adjustment to tinnitus. Health Psychology,25, 119-123. abstract

Recent and Upcoming Presentations on Adjustment to Chronic Health Conditions

Gick, M. L. & Sirois, F. M. (2009, August). Attachment moderates effects of disease activity in females with IBD. Paper presented at the 117th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, Toronto, ON.

Sirois, F. M. (2009, August). Psychological thriving and positive change expectations in people with arthritis. Paper presented at the 117th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, Toronto, ON.

Voth, J. & Sirois, F. M. (2009, June). Coping in the hall of mirrors: Social perceptions, perceived social support, and psychological adjustment to chronic illness. Paper presented at the Social-Personality preconference of the 70th Annual Convention of the Canadian Psychological Association, Montreal, Que.

Sirois, F. M., (2008, November). Self-perceptions and perceived change among people with arthritis who use complementary and alternative medicine. Paper presented at the 5th Annual IN-CAM Symposium, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON.

Sirois, F. M. (2008, June). What is and what may never be: Possible selves and adjustment to inflammatory bowel disease. In F.M. Sirois (chair),Guts, gumption, and go-ahead: Psychological adjustment to inflammatory bowel disease. Paper presented at the 69th Annual Convention of the Canadian Psychological Association, Halifax, NS.

Wolfe, B., & Sirois, F. M. (2008, June). Understanding the coping strategies of patients with inflammatory bowel disease: Passive coping or secondary control? In F.M. Sirois (chair),Guts, gumption, and go-ahead: Psychological adjustment to inflammatory bowel disease. Paper presented at the 69th Annual Convention of the Canadian Psychological Association, Halifax, NS.