The Role of Two Kinds of Efficacy Beliefs in Maintaining the Well-Being of Chronically Stressed Older Adults

  • Alex J. Zautra
  • Jeanne M. Hoffman
  • John W. Reich
Part of the The Springer Series on Stress and Coping book series (SSSO)


The loss of autonomy that results from a disabling chronic illness is one of the most difficult and stressful experiences to cope with for an older adult. The ability lost is frequently never regained, and the older adult suffers from both the present loss and anticipation of a future of sustained and even increased confinement, both physical and psychological. As other investigators have found (see Zautra & Hempel, 1984, for a review), our research on older adults indicates that activity limitation has pervasive adverse effects on mental health (Reich & Zautra, 1988; Zautra, Guarnaccia, & Reich, 1988; Zautra, Reich, & Newsom, 1995). In comparison to those without impairment, older adults with functional loss often show more anxiety, more depression, less positive affect, and lower self-esteem (Reich & Zautra, 1988). The loss of autonomy due to chronic illness appears to lower one’s sense of personal control in general. Indeed, chronically ill adults show more fatalism, more helplessness (Smith & Wallston, 1992), and less perceived control over future events than do healthy controls (Lennon, Dohrenwend, Zautra, & Marbach, 1990).


Psychological Distress Activity Limitation Network Member Efficacy Belief Coping Effort 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alex J. Zautra
    • 1
  • Jeanne M. Hoffman
    • 1
  • John W. Reich
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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