Coping mediates and moderates the relationship between executive functions and psychological adjustment in multiple sclerosis

Lisa B. Grech, Litza A. Kiropoulos, Katherine M. Kirby, Ernest Butler, Mark Paine, Robert Hester

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To identify the moderating and mediating relationship of different coping strategies between executive function and stress, depression and anxiety in people with multiple sclerosis (PwMS). Method: Participants were 107 people with relapsing remitting or secondary progressive multiple sclerosis who were administered tasks of executive function and completed self-report measures of stress, depression, anxiety, and coping. Results: An indirect relationship was found between executive function and psychosocial adjustment through maladaptive coping strategies: behavioral and mental disengagement, and substance abuse; adaptive coping strategies: acceptance, active, positive reinterpretation, and growth, as well as for an index of adaptive coping. In general, a relationship was found between better performance on tasks of executive function and psychosocial adjustment when adaptive coping strategies were low, as opposed to high, or maladaptive coping strategies were high, as opposed to low. Some unexpected findings are also discussed. Conclusion: Executive function and psychosocial adjustment is mediated and moderated by coping strategies used by PwMS. Well-preserved executive function provides relative protection from poorer adjustment in the presence of high maladaptive or low adaptive coping. PwMS who perform poorly on tasks of executive function benefit from using less cognitively demanding adaptive coping strategies to enhance adjustment outcomes and further research in this area would be advantageous to underpin effective intervention strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-376
Number of pages16
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognition
  • Coping
  • Mediator moderator
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Psychological adjustment

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