Emotion regulation in chronic disease populations: An integrative review

Kelly L. Wierenga, Rebecca H. Lehto, Barbara Given

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations


Background and Purpose: Emotion regulation, the experiencing, processing, and modulating of emotional response, is necessary to manage the emotional stressors common in patients with chronic illness. Overwhelming emotional demands deplete the resources needed for everyday self-care management of chronic disease, contributing to poor health outcomes. Emotion regulation is shown to impact behaviors in healthy individuals; yet, a review of literature examining evidence of associations in chronically ill populations is lacking. The purpose of this article is to examine the state of the science relative to the impact of emotion regulation on health outcomes in chronic illness populations. Methods: Articles were reviewed (N 5 14) that focused on emotion regulation and outcomes of patients with chronic illness. Results: Indicate that most of the studies focused on these concepts are cross-sectional and measure emotion regulation using various surveys. Potential relationships exist with increased age, male gender, higher education, decreased stress, depressive, and anxiety symptoms being associated with more adaptive emotion regulation. Of primary importance to patients with chronic illnesses is the potential link between greater difficulties with emotion regulation and the presence of chronic disease as well as poorer physical function. Implications for Practice: Care should include attention to affective regulation as well as physiologic responses of chronic illness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)247-271
Number of pages25
JournalResearch and Theory for Nursing Practice
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Chronic illness
  • Emotion regulation
  • Health outcomes
  • Self-management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Research and Theory

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