The association between regulatory focus and distress in patients with a chronic disease: the moderating role of partner support

Marike Schokker, Thera P. Links, Marie Louise Luttik, Mariët Hagedoorn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


OBJECTIVES: To determine the association between two regulatory foci (i.e. promotion and prevention focus) and distress in patients with chronic disease requiring self-management, and to determine whether these associations were moderated by partner support.

DESIGN AND METHOD: Four hundred and seventy-seven patients with diabetes, asthma, or heart disease completed a postal survey consisting of the Regulatory Focus Questionnaire, questionnaires measuring active engagement (i.e. supportive behaviour) and protective buffering and overprotection (i.e. unsupportive behaviour) by the partner as perceived by the patient, and the General Health Questionnaire-12 to measure distress.

RESULTS: A promotion focus was negatively associated with distress. This association was only found when patients reported that their partner engaged in relatively low levels of active engagement or relatively high levels of protective buffering and overprotection. The positive association between prevention focus and distress was not consistently found to be moderated by partner support.

CONCLUSION: Active engagement appears to buffer against high distress in patients with a weak promotion focus, while protective buffering and overprotection appear to aggravate distress in these patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-78
Number of pages16
JournalBritish journal of health psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010
Externally publishedYes



  • asthma
  • chronic diseases
  • diabetes mellitus
  • health promotion
  • heart diseases
  • interpersonal relations
  • netherlands
  • social support
  • stress, psychological

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