The influence of executive functioning on the relationship between coping style and emotional outcomes in the chronic phase following acquired brain injury

Fergus Gracey, Jessica Fish, Adam Wagner, Sara K Simblett, Andrew Bateman, Donna Malley, Jonathan J Evans, Tom Manly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Weaknesses in executive functioning (EF) have been proposed to create a general vulnerability to increased emotional distress, and to interact with coping style. However, studies of coping and EF following acquired brain injury have failed to consistently support hypothesized interactions. The current study sought to identify contributions of coping styles and metacognitive and cognitive EF to models of depression, tension-anxiety and anger-hostility in people with ABI.

Method: 69 people with ABI (43 Male, 34 TBI, mean age 47.8 years) were recruited and completed demographic and clinical measures, the Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations, the Profile of Mood States and The Hotel Task and Sustained Attention to Response Test (SART) at the baseline phase of a separately reported trial of an EF rehabilitation intervention.

Results: Multiple regression analyses employing a model fit approach (Akaike’s Information Criterion, AIC) identified Hotel Task * task-oriented coping interaction terms in models of anxiety and depression, and SART * emotion focused coping in the anxiety model, consistent with poorer EF being associated with a greater impact of coping style. Fatigue and emotion-focused coping style emerged as associated with all three emotional outcomes.

Conclusions: The current study is the first to identify an effect of interaction between EF and coping style on emotional outcomes in ABI. It is proposed that future studies include measures of metacognitive or higher EF rather than more circumscribed cognitive EF measures, explore mechanisms by which fatigue is associated with emotional outcome, and employ longitudinal designs.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusSubmitted - 20 Aug 2018

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