Wellbeing and distress in young people with chronic conditions: how do positive psychology variables relate to mental health outcomes?

Asha Parkinson, Barbara Mullan, Keely Bebbington, Elizabeth Davis, Claire Treadgold, Amy Finlay-Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The aim of this study was to determine the unique and shared contributions of various positive psychology constructs (gratitude, optimism, hope, self-compassion, self-efficacy, and emotion regulation) to wellbeing and distress outcomes in young people living with a diverse range of chronic health conditions. Methods and Measures: 169 Australians (84.0% female, mean age = 21.2) who reported living with a chronic physical condition completed a cross-sectional survey assessing wellbeing, distress, and each positive psychology variable. Two multiple regressions were used to determine the unique and shared contributions of the positive psychology variables to wellbeing and distress outcomes. Results: When considered alongside symptom severity, the variables explained 53.4% and 38.1% of variance in distress and wellbeing, respectively. Only optimism and self-efficacy accounted for unique and significant variance in the model predicting wellbeing, accounting for 6.1% and 4.6% of unique variance, respectively. For the distress model, optimism, self-compassion, and emotion regulation each accounted for significant variance. When considered alongside other variables, hope and gratitude did not contribute to either model. Conclusion: Findings suggest that individual positive psychology variables differentially contribute to wellbeing and distress outcomes in young people with chronic conditions. Optimism appears to account for unique variance in both outcomes, suggesting it may be a parsimonious target to promote complete mental health in this population.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2274539
JournalHealth Psychology and Behavioral Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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