2013. Vol.4, No.6A1, 39-44
Published Online June 2013 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 39
Coping Strategies and Self-Efficacy for Diabetes
Management in Older Mexican Adults
Mónica Hattori-Hara, Ana Luisa González-Celis
Division of Research and Graduate, Faculty of Higher Education Iztacala, National Autonomous University of
Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico
Received March 27th, 2013; revised April 28th, 2013; accepted May 27th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Mónica Hattori-Hara, Ana Luisa González-Celis. This is an open access article distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction
in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Diabetes Mellitus 2 (DM2) affects 20% of the elderly population in Mexico, causes disability and death,
and demands many life-style changes. Since DM2 control is largely responsibility of the patient, man-
agement itself is source of stress. Coping is a process by which persons face stressful situations, and ac-
tive coping have proved being effective in disease control. Social-cognitive perspective suggests that self-
efficacy believes can regulate human functioning, therefore they could promote specific coping if rela-
tions between them are found. The study aim was to examine the association between coping strategies
and self-efficacy in DM2 management in a group of 126 Mexican adults over 54 years old (X= 68.57,
SD = 7.19), which answered an interview about sociodemographics data, self-efficacy in diabetes and
coping strategies. The most common kind of coping used by the sample was self-recreation (X= 50.41,
SD = 19.50) and religious faith (X= 50.04, SD = 17.65), and in self-efficacy the domain of taking the
medicines had the greater score (X= 90.25, SD = 16.08). Total score in self-efficacy had significant cor-
relations with active coping (r = .402, p .01) and self-recreation (r = .291, p .01). We concluded that
there are relationships between self-efficacy beliefs in diabetes management and active coping. The cor-
relation found can be used to guide future interventions with these patients, but the relation should be
studied deeper for directional search, if is proved that DM self-efficacy beliefs enhance active coping;
self-efficacy based interventions should be promote.
Keywords: Elderly; Diabetes Mellitus; Problem Focus Coping; Self-Efficacy
Currently proportion of old adults is increasing in the world
population (United Nations, 2002), specifically in Mexico in
2005 a total of 7.8 million people representing 7.5% of the total
habitants were over 60 years old, by 2010 this number in-
creased to 9.3 million people (8.6%) and it is projected that the
elderly population in Mexico will reach 33.5 million (27.5%) in
2050 (National Population Council [CONAPO], 2010).
In the seniors diseases developed by the habits of a lifetime
are often present, so as age increases the number of people with
chronic diseases increases too (Bazo, Garcia, Maiztegui, &
Martinez, 1999; Romero-Martínez et al., 2012).
Among chronic diseases, diabetes mellitus type 2 (DM2) is a
major cause of disability and death (Gutierrez, 2004; Interna-
tional Diabetes Federation, 2012; National System of Health
Information, 2005; Zuñiga, Garcia, & Partida, 2004), affects
more than 20% of people over 60’s (American Diabetes Asso-
ciation, 2001; Latin American Diabetes Association, 2008) and
is rapidly expanding in Mexico (Olaiz et al., 2003; Villalpando
et al., 2010). Due to fast expansion and negative impact of
DM2 on old people’s lives, is crucial to address its control and
To control DM2, glycemic regulation is needed, and to reach
it, medical therapy alone is not enough; it must be combined
with healthy lifestyle habits (Cornell & Briggs, 2004; Horton,
Cefalu, Haines, & Siminerio, 2008) also known as DM2 man-
agement behaviors as, inter alia, healthy eating, physical activ-
ity, taking medication and risk reduction (American Association
of Diabetes Educator, 2011a).
In the third age replace patient’s lifetime habits with DM2
management behaviors is stressful. So disease management
combined with changes and peculiarities in the elderly, con-
tinuously face patients to external and internal demands often
assessed as overwhelming and exceeding individual resources;
forcing the person to perform cognitive and behavior efforts in
order to handle the situations, this process is known as coping
(Lazarus & Folkman, 1991).
Coping is defined isolated from the results it have, the term
is used whether the process is adaptative or nonadaptative
(Lazarus & Folkman, 2000), however one of the aims of the
researchers in this area is studying the effects of coping on
adaptative outcomes (Lazarus, 1993), it means to find which
strategies of coping are the ones that seeking to handle the
situation help the patient promote and maintain overall health,
ensure good quality of life and reduce sources of physical and
emotional distress.
There are many coping classifications (Ephrem, 1986; Katz,
Ritvo, Irvine, & Jackson, 1996; Monfort & Tréhel, 2012;
Schwarzer & Schwarzer, 1996), but at least, coping as a process
emphasizes that there are two broad functions: problem-focused
which aims managing the stressor and emotion-focused which
tackle the person’s affective responses to the stressor (Carver,
Scheier, & Weintraub, 1989; Lazaruz & Folkman, 1984).
In DM2 as the patients themselves are the most determining
factor of treatment success (American Association of Diabetes
Educator, 2011b; Pérez, 2003), strategies that guide persons to
perform self-management behaviors in their lifestyle (problem
focused coping) as search of solutions, use of social support
and stress management skills (Fisher, Thorpe, McEvoy, &
DeVellis, 2007) have proved effective for adaptation. Mean-
while emotion-focused coping have not been significant related
to overall adjustment in DM (Duangdao & Roesch, 2008) but
has been significantly associated with greater perceived stress,
problem areas in diabetes, and negative appraisals of diabetes
control (Samuel-Hodge, Watkins, Rowell, & Hooten, 2008).
Moreover, among psychological factors related to DM2 man-
agement in addition to coping, self-efficacy have been positive
correlated with disease management behaviors (Annesi, 2011;
Ellis et al., 2004; Riveros, Cortazar-Palapa, Alcazar, & Sán-
chez-Sosa, 2005; Steed et al., 2005; Wagner & Tennen, 2007)
and reduced stress response in DM (Kanbara et al., 2008;
Schokker et al., 2011).
From a social-cognitive framework it is proposed that self-
efficacy regulates human functioning through; selection, cogni-
tive, motivational and emotional processes (Bandura, 1997). In
this sense, human behavior guided by the beliefs about our
ability to act, influence health directly through cognitive and
emotional processes by activate biological system that mediates
health and disease. On the other hand self-efficacy beliefs
through motivational and selection processes, influence health
indirectly by promoting or decrementing health habits (Bandura,
2004), from considering a change of habits and choice of tar-
gets, to carry them out and keep changes reached (Bandura,
In summary problem focus coping and greater self-efficacy
in DM2 management are related to better self-management be-
haviors, but the relation between self-efficacy and coping stra-
tegies has been less explored and remains unclear. Coping used
will be crucial to achieve control over the disease (Thoolen et
al., 2008) and self-efficacy in DM management relate in how
the individual copy with stressful situations (Gillibrand & Ste-
venson, 2006; Wagner & Tennen, 2007), so the aim of this
study was to analyze the association between disease coping
type and levels of self-efficacy for managing DM2 in general
and its factors (eating, exercising, glycemic monitoring risk
reduction) a group of elderly Mexicans citizens use.
According to the review we hypothesize that self-efficacy for
managing DM2 in general and its factors, have positive asso-
ciation with problem focus coping or related to any task to
manage the disease (active and self-recreation coping) and not
with emotion focus coping (depressive and religious faith copy-
We interviewed 126 patients older than 54 years (mean =
68.57, SD = 7.19), with at least one year of DM2 diagnosis (1
to 53 years), who attended an outpatient public health clinic in
Mexico City in any of its shifts (morning and afternoon),
twenty were excluded for having missing values by more than
20% in any of the instruments.
Of the respondents 44.3% reported having developed com-
plications from DM2, which in 68.1% of cases were chronic
and 31.9% were acute. People cognitive and audition impaired
were excluded. In total 52.8% were females and 47.2% were
males. The majority were dedicated to housework (38.7%) or
were retired (36.8%) and only 22.6% were employed or worked
outside home, of all the sample 11.3% lived alone, 42.5% lived
only with their partner, 22.6% with their partner and others,
while 23.5% were living without a partner but with others.
Data collection was done in interview format, in an office or
the waiting room of the health clinic, in a single session of 20 -
30 minutes.
With support of the receptionists potential participants were
detected, researchers approached them to introduce themselves,
gave a brief explanation of the study and invited to participate;
those who accepted were asked to accompany the interviewer
in a more private space. Then the interviewer read the informed
consent based on the ethical principles of the Helsinki code,
clarifying the confidentiality of the information provided and its
use only for research purposes.
Signed the informed consent, the interview was conducted.
Data were analyzed using the statistical package SPSS Statistics
Socio-demographic data were collected from the patient
through a structured interview and the following instruments
were applied.
The Friburgo Coping Questionnaire (FKS-LIS) Spanish ver-
sion (Oviedo-Gomez, 2007). Developed by Muthny in 1989 in
Germany, and designed for people over 16 years of age with
sequels of chronic or acute disease, this instrument consists of
five scales, with an Alpha of .68 that covers a wide range of
coping strategies on cognitive, emotional and behavioral levels
(Muthny, n.d.).
Rose, Hildebrandt, Fliege, Klapp and Schirop (2002) vali-
dated this scale in English with a sample of 350 chronic or
acute patients, obtaining an Alpha of .734. Furthermore Ovi-
edo-Gomez (2007) translated and applied this scale in Mexico,
obtaining an Alpha of .75 for the total scale of 35 items. To
increase the Alpha coefficient of each subscale, six items (11,
12, 20, 29, 32 and 33) and the subscale of “reduce importance
to the disease” (2, 3, 4 and 31) were removed, thereby resulting
in a questionnaire with 25 items with an Alpha of .723. The
four subscales remaining in this instrument are the depressive
(8 items, α = .67), active (7 items, α = .64), self-recreation (4
items, α = .63) and religious faith coping (6 items, α = .55).
Some examples of its items are for depressive coping “I feel
pity of myself”, “I isolate from others”; for active coping “I
seek information of the disease and its treatment”, “I show my
feelings to others”; for self-recreation coping “I try to distract
myself”, “I give more permits to myself”; and for religious faith
coping “I accept illness as destiny”, “I seek solace in religious
Each item was assessed on a Likert scale of five points, in
which the higher the score the greater the use of the strategy.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
The sum of scores obtained on each dimension was converted
to a 0 to 100 scale with the Equation (1).
rs = raw score ni = number of items.
Self-efficacy in Diabetes Questionnaire (Del Castillo, 2010),
a version with five added questions for this study. The original
instrument constructed by Del Castillo is composed of 14 items
distributed on three factors: self-efficacy in manage healthy
eating (6 items, α = .78), self-efficacy in physical activity (5
items, α = .80) and self-efficacy in taking oral medication (3
items, α = .63), this instrument has an explain variance of
56.95%, a total reliability Cro nbach Al pha of .82.
In the version used in this study, five items were added con-
cerning to self-efficacy for applying insulin without assistance,
performing self-monitoring of blood glucose, recognizing and
knowing what to do when sugar levels are altered and carrying
out a daily revision of their feet, these were grouped into a sin-
gle factor which was called self-efficacy in risk regulation.
In this version we used five response options rated from 1 to
5, and as the instrument of coping, there was a conversion of
the raw score on a scale of 0 to 100 for ease of comparison and
analysis of results, where higher score indicates greater self-
With regard to the coping questionnaire, in this study it got a
general alpha of .789 and the reliability in its scales were of .68
in depressive assimilation, .76 in active coping, .44 in self-rec-
reation and .51 in religious faith.
On this scale the higher the score, the greater the frequency
of coping strategies use. Table 1 shows the means for each type
of coping strategy, accordingly the coping strategies most com-
monly used in the sample were self-recreation and religious
faith, followed by active coping and finally depressive coping.
In the version of the self-efficacy instrument used in this
study, five items were added and applied to 106 adults over 54
years, its factors fully agreed with the statement made by Del
Castillo (2010), while the five additional items were grouped
into a single factor which was called self-efficacy in risk regu-
lation, earning an explained variance of 68.49, a total alpha
of .897 and four factors with high alphas: healthy eating
α= .933; physical activity α = .881; medicine α = .846 and risk
reduction α = .773.
Table 1.
Descriptive measures of coping strategies used by older adults with
Confidence Interval
95% (CI)
Strategies N Min Max Mean SD LowerHigher
Depressive 106 0 78.13 18.63 16.00 15.5521.71
Active 106 3.57 92.86 44.47 21.67 40.3048.65
Selfrecreation 106 0 100 50.41 19.50 46.6554.16
Religious Faith 106 16.67 100 50.04 17.65 46.6453.43
In the analysis of the self-efficacy instrument, a total score
and a score for each factor was obtained (see Ta ble 2), accord-
ing to the results; the sample has a mean of total self-efficacy of
62.32 (SD = 21.63).
In the factors, the highest score was observed for self-effi-
cacy in taking oral medication, followed by manage healthy
eating and risk regulation, being the area of physical activity
where less self-efficacy, bigger SD and wider confidence inter-
vals were found, which are indicative that self-efficacy among
people fluctuates more in this area than in the others.
The correlation between coping strategies and self-efficacy
in self-management of DM2 was analyzed, (see Ta b le 3), only
active coping (r = .402, p ˂ .01) and self-recreation (r = .291, p
˂ .01) were significantly correlated with total self-efficacy.
Depressive coping is not correlated significantly with any
self-efficacy factor, but if there were some, it would be negative.
With regard to religious faith coping, only a positive correlation
with taking medication was found, while self-recreation coping
was significantly correlated with self-efficacy in physical acti-
vity, taking medications and regulation risk area, finally it was
observed that active coping was significantly correlated with
self-efficacy in healthy eating, physical activity and regulation
of risk areas.
Chronic disease is a painful process that leads to a transfor-
mation in the person who suffers it, involves loss of body con-
trol, commits aspects of personal identity and relationships, this
makes it an important source of ambivalent feelings, physical
discomfort and stress, that when suffering in advanced age may
Table 2.
Descriptive measures of the self-efficacy (SE) in DM2 and its factors.
Confidence Interval
95% (CI)
NMinMaxMean SD LowerHigher
Healthy Eating106010062.76 31.34 56.7368.80
Physical Activity106010045.33 34.49 38.6851.97
Oral Medication106010090.25 16.08 87.1593.34
Risk Regulation106010061.93 29.49 56.2567.61
Total SE 1061510062.32 21.63 58.1566.49
Table 3.
Correlation r Pearson, between self-efficacy (SE) and coping strategies.
Coping strategies
Depressive Active Self-Recreation Religious Faith
Healthy Eating.045 .285** .108 .161
Physical Activity.004 .261** .278** .008
Oral Medication.028 .164 .222* .260**
Risk Regulation.041 .396** .295** .152
Total Self Efficacy .004 .402** .291** .166
Note: *Significant correlation at .05; **Significant correlation at .01.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 41
be of greater magnitude, impacting the quality of life and func-
tioning of the elderly (Gonzalez-Celis, 2002, 2005), so in old
age and disease, the development of coping skills are key for
optimum fit to both processes.
In DM2 to achieve good glycemic control is necessary to
carry out self-management behaviors (Haire, 1996; Pérez, 2003)
but self-management itself represents a stressful situation which
need continue adaptation. Frojan and Rubio (2004) found that
taking oral medicine is considered by the patients as the most
important and simple behavior to make, as opposed to changes
in lifestyles (diet, exercise, risk reduction and stress manage-
ment) that seemed complicated and secondary to the treatment.
Results in the present study agree with that, here the dimension
referred to taking medication was the one with higher self-effi-
cacy, so presumably patients tend to perceive a lower self-effi-
cacy to change the other health habits, and that is why they
assess them as more threatening and difficult to adopt.
Thinking that SE beliefs and outcomes expectations could
guide people choose challenges and goals, quantity of effort to
invest, time of perseverance facing difficulties and way of in-
terpret failures as motivational or disheartening (Del Castillo,
2010), help us to understand why commitment to incorporate
medical treatment in daily life is easiest than other changes of
Taking oral medicine in DM2 is simpler because its effect is
almost immediate and do not require much time or effort to
take place, on the other hand, learn to know your body, change
eating habits and especially change exercise habits, requires
more time, effort and volitional control, while reinforcing ef-
fects that could motivate these behaviors are usually perceived
at long-term and in some cases, they do not become tangible
because they are preventive, this makes that the immediate
cost-benefit assessment, do not encourage change in that kind
of behavior.
According to the processes by which self-efficacy beliefs
regulate human behavior (cognitive, motivational, emotional
and choice) this study was interested in the possible relation-
ship between self-efficacy and person’s coping strategies to
face with his disease situation, in this regard we see that the
total SE in DM2 correlated with active and self-recreating cop-
The active coping refers to search information about the dis-
ease and its treatment, follow the doctor’s instructions, express
feelings, set goals and implement strategies to achieve them.
This type of coping as seen in the sample, is not the most
widely used, but is important to encourage it in the population
since is directly related with higher frequency of self-care be-
haviors and improved health indicators which represent per-
son’s behavioral activation (Fisher et al., 2007). To increase the
use of active coping, the results suggest study deeper the rela-
tions found between active coping and self-efficacy areas where
significant correlations were identified (healthy eating, physical
activity and risk regulation).
Among coping strategies, self-recreation was one of the most
used, it refers to allow themselves make more things, self-en-
courage, seek personal success and acclaim and try to distract
themselves. This type of coping and its relationship with be-
haviors that facilitate self-management in DM2 should be fur-
ther analyzed, because if used properly, self-recreation focused
in behaviors with which is significant correlated, such as phy-
sical activity, risk monitoring signals and even personal well-
being and self-esteem, may help DM2 management.
Moreover, support for religious faith, is a type of coping ex-
pected in a sample from a population in which at least 88%
reported being Catholic (National Institute of Statistics, Geog-
raphy and Informatic, 2005). This type of coping, only corre-
lated with SE in oral medication, this could suggest that people
put the responsibility of their well-being outside them (external
locus of control), like in the medicine or in god, and do not feel
able to change lifestyle habits and get big improvement by
themselves, so they may seek solace in religion, accept illness
as a destination and even seek in it some sense. This kind of
coping could be fine for terminal illnesses, but for DM2 other
strategies of coping should be expected and promoted.
Finally depressive coping was the less frequent in the sample,
but even it had no significant correlation with SE in any of its
domains, it is important to note that if there were some, it
would have negative tendency, this affirmation is based on
other studies in which this correlations were found being sig-
nificant (González-Celis, 2002; Ortiz, Ortiz, Gatica, & Gomez,
2011), an alternative explanation is that normally high presence
of depression in the elderlies (Barua, Ghosh, Karl, & Basilio,
2011) could be darkening a possible relation between depres-
sion coping strategies and self-efficacy in DM2 management,
that possible could be found if replicate this study with different
group ages.
As the type of coping that a person adopts to manage their
DM, relate to the control over their illness, coping type selec-
tion process is important to understand. Self-efficacy in the
management of the disease have sense if improves the per-
formance of behaviors that potentiate health and minimize
As expected, findings of this study showed correlation be-
tween self-efficacy beliefs and problem focus coping (active,
self-recreation) and almost no correlation was found between
self-efficacy with emotion focus coping (depressive and reli-
gious faith). This results and the underlying framework, suggest
that the beliefs seniors have on their ability to perform certain
behaviors, relate to the strategies of coping they select. Since
the conducts would be held as long as the person believes hav-
ing the necessary for carry them out successfully, the coping
strategies that optimize these behaviors are recommended to be
strengthened through self-efficacy beliefs (Krein, Heisler, Piette,
Butchart, & Kerr, 2007).
Even evidence seems to indicate that self-efficacy could im-
prove coping choice, this relation has to be deeper studied, in
one hand it is probable that the relation is bidirectional, on the
other hand coping strategies selections could be influenced by
many others factors, one example is that Mexican culture could
have an external locus of control that could explain why self-
efficacy in oral medication is related with religious faith coping
but not with active coping.
This study had some limitations, such as, cross-sectional de-
sign, the heterogeneity of the sample related to time of diagno-
sis, education level and particularities which could not be as-
sessed as religion believes, spirituality, and locus of control,
nevertheless, considering that diabetes is a disease which man-
agement largely depends on patients involvement, it is neces-
sary to make studies starting from the results found here as a
point of departure for the subject. Limitations invite researchers
to replicate this study with samples of different ages, religions,
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
cultures, countries, more measures and with longitudinal de-
This paper is product of an investigation sponsored by
CONACYT, through a grant scholarship (223214) for the Psy-
chology PhD studies of the first author under the guidance of
the second.
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