OBJECTIVE: This study sought to describe factors associated with
adaptive coping by family members with a psychiatrically disabled relative.
METHODS: A total of 225 family members of persons with serious mental
illness were interviewed. Hierarchical regression analysis using five
variables that may have contributed to adaptive coping was conducted. The
five factors were demographic characteristics of the family member,
severity of the relative's illness, the family member's subjective burden
and grief, social support, and personal coping resources (self-efficacy and
mastery). RESULTS: More extensive adaptive coping was associated with
increased social support as measured by the density of the social network,
the extent of affirming social support, and participation in a support
group for families. Better coping was also associated with a greater sense
of self-efficacy in dealing with the relative's mental illness. Adaptive
coping was not associated with the severity of the relative's illness.
CONCLUSIONS: The findings suggest that mental health professionals should
encourage family members to use the support provided by community-based
support groups and to form such groups if none are available.