OBJECTIVES: To assess the impact of cognitive impairment (CI) on coping strategies in multiple sclerosis (MS). MATERIALS AND METHODS: Sixty-three patients (40 women, 55 relapsing-remitting and 8 secondary progressive, age 42.6+/-10.1 years, Expanded Disability Status Scale 2.2+/-1.7) were assessed using the Coping Orientation for Problem Experiences-New Italian version Inventory, the Beck Depression Inventory and the Rao's Brief Repeatable Battery. RESULTS: MS patients were less likely to use positive and problem-focused strategies, whereas avoiding strategies were adopted more frequently. Twenty-three (36.5%) cases were CI. We found no differences in the type of coping between CI and cognitively preserved patients. Scores on the Stroop test (beta=-0.91, p=0.04) and on the Word List Generation (beta=1.15, p=0.04) were associated with poorer coping strategies. CONCLUSIONS: Our study suggests that cognitive functioning (in particular on sustained attention and aspects of executive function) must be considered in a comprehensive account of the factors contributing to successful coping in MS patients.
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