Living with the late effects of disability

A five year follow-up survey of coping among post-polio survivors

Mary Westbrook*, Doris McIlwain

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Citations (Scopus)


A follow-up survey of 176 people with post-polio syndrome found that while they were experiencing significantly less anxiety, uncertainty, depression, and helplessness concerning their increasing disability than 5 years previously, their feelings of anger persisted. Relationships were found between coping styles, breadth of coping attempted, and emotions experienced. Specifically, a coping style of focusing on symptoms while attempting to maintain previous activity levels characterized people who felt more helpless, depressed, and angry. Those who coped by accommodating to their symptoms had adopted more strategies. Not all coping strategies were equally favoured: those involving lifestyle and personal changes were rated as more effective than many treatments and interpersonal strategies. Findings highlight the importance for health practitioners of tapping into clients' knowledge when designing and evaluating rehabilitation programmes appropriate to the new life-span model of rehabilitation that has evolved from research into the late effects of disabilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-71
Number of pages12
JournalAustralian Occupational Therapy Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Client knowledge
  • Coping
  • Disability
  • Life-span model
  • Post-polio syndrome
  • Rehabilitation
  • Stress

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