People with hemophilia scored better on assessments of psychological well-being than healthy adults, a study found.
The finding adds to a growing body of evidence that people with chronic diseases like hemophilia are not only able to handle daily challenges, but also to thrive and grow through hardship.
The study, “Perceived well-being and mental health in haemophilia,” was published in the journal Psychology, Health & Medicine.
The assessment of mental health among those with hemophilia has historically focused on negative indicators, such as depression, negative emotions, stress, and perceived social barriers.
However, by focusing exclusively on negative aspects, researchers may have overlooked the actual definition of mental health, which is the presence of positive assets rather than the absence of negative ones, the researchers said.
They assessed the emotional, psychological, and social well-being of patients with hemophilia within the mental health spectrum as defined by the Dual Continua Model, which measures mental health and mental illness along two different, correlated continua. The model looks at mental health along a “syndrome” of positive symptoms ranked from “flourishing” to “languishing.”
Researchers in Italy compared the results of a series of psychological tests done on 84 Italian patients with severe forms of hemophilia to those of 164 adults with no history of chronic illness.
Participants were asked to complete three different questionnaires: the Short Form Health Survey, to evaluate their perceived overall health; the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule, to rank the intensity of positive and negative feelings and emotions; and the Mental Health Continuum Short Form, to evaluate their emotional, psychological, and social well-being.
People with hemophilia had worse overall health, but lower “negative affect” —a measure of how one experiences the world — and higher psychological well-being than healthy adults.
Researchers found the percentage of “flourishing” individuals — those with better mental health — was higher among patients with hemophilia than in those without chronic illness.
“These findings provide support to the vast literature showing that people with chronic disease are not only able to adaptively cope with daily challenges but also to thrive and grow through adversity,” the researchers said,
The results also highlight the potential usefulness of assessing positive mental health indicators among patients with hemophilia, they said.
“The identification of assets and strengths allowing people with hemophilia to flourish can be fruitfully used to design resource-centered interventions,” they said.
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