Actor and partner effects of coping on adjustment in couples undergoing assisted reproduction treatment
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University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Warsaw, Poland
Submission date: 2016-09-05
Acceptance date: 2016-10-26
Online publication date: 2017-06-13
Publication date: 2017-05-24
Health Psychology Report 2017;5(4):296-303
Infertility is a shared experience as it affects both partners. However, mutual dependencies between coping and adjustment at the couple level remain to be fully elucidated. The study attempted to address this issue using the Actor-Partner Interdependence Model (APIM) to examine the actor effect (the extent to which an individual’s score on coping predicted their own level of depressive symptoms and life purpose) and the partner effect (the extent to which an individual’s score on coping predicted the level of adjustment in the partner) in couples undergoing assisted reproduction treatment (ART).

Participants and procedure
Coping strategies, depressive symptoms, and life purpose were assessed among 31 married couples (aged 27-38 years) undergoing ART. The Brief COPE, CES-D, and PIL questionnaires were used. Data were analyzed by multilevel modeling (MLM).

The results of MLM indicated that focus on positive and active coping had an actor effect with depressive symptoms and life purpose, respectively. The actor effect of evasive coping on depression was moderated by gender and significant only in women. The partner effect was demonstrated for evasive coping, social support seeking, and substance use – the first two were gender moderated and significant in men.

Coping efforts in the couple during infertility treatment are not only associated with the individual but also the partner’s adjustment to that situation. Although the focus on positive and active coping was associated with individual benefits, other coping strategies which have the function of a protective buffer may also result in the occurrence of side effects, especially in females.
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