Objective: Although gratitude has been identified as a key clinically relevant trait for improving well-being, it is understudied within medical populations. The current study addressed this gap and extended previous and limited cross-sectional research by examining the longitudinal associations of gratitude to depression in 2 chronic illness samples, arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Methods: Two chronic illness samples, arthritis (N =423) and IBD (N =427), completed online surveys at Time 1 (T1). One hundred sixty-three people with arthritis and 144 people with IBD completed the 6-month follow-up survey (T2). Depression, gratitude, illness cognitions, perceived stress, social support, and disease-related variables were assessed at T1 and T2. Results: At T2, 57.2% of the arthritis sample and 53.4% of the IBD sample met the cut off scores for significant depression. T1 gratitude was negatively associated with depressive symptoms at T1 and T2 in both samples (rs from -43 to -50). Regression analyses revealed that T1 gratitude remained a significant and unique predictor of lower T2 depression after controlling for T1 depression, relevant demographic variables, illness cognitions, changes in illness-relevant variables, and another positive psychological construct, thriving, in both samples. Conclusion: As the first investigation of the longitudinal associations of gratitude to psychological well-being in the context of chronic illness, the current study provides important evidence for the relevance of gratitude for health-related clinical populations. Further intervention-based research is warranted to more fully understand the potential benefits of gratitude for adjustment to chronic illness.
- Inflammatory bowel disease