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The relationship between self-blame for the onset of a chronic physical health condition and emotional distress : a systematic literature review

Callebaut, Leah; Molyneux, Philip; Alexander, Tim


Leah Callebaut


Objective: Past literature presents contrasting perspectives regarding the potential influence of self-blame on adjustment to illness. This systematic literature review aimed to summarise findings from all investigations to date that have explored the relationship between self-blame for the onset of a chronic physical health condition and emotional distress. Method: Between November 2014 and February 2015 electronic databases were searched for relevant literature. Only those studies which assessed self-blame directly and related specifically to illness onset were included within the review. The methodological and reporting quality of all eligible articles was assessed and themes within the findings were discussed using a narrative synthesis approach. Results: The majority of studies found self-blame to be associated with increased distress. However, several concerns with the quality of the reviewed articles may undermine the validity of their conclusions. Conclusions: It is important for professionals supporting people with chronic physical health conditions to have an understanding of how of self-critical causal attributions might relate to emotional distress. Further research is required to understand the concept of self-blame, the factors that may encourage this belief and to develop reliable and valid measures of this experience.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2017-07
Journal Clinical psychology and psychotherapy
Print ISSN 1063-3995
Electronic ISSN 1099-0879
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 24
Issue 4
Pages 965-986
Keywords Self-blame; Chronic health condition; Adjustment; Causal attribution; Emotional distress; Depression
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is a description of an article accepted for publication in: Clinical psychology and psychotherapy, 2017, v.24 issue 4.


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