Dove Medical Press
Background: Chronic illness is a risk factor for low self-esteem, and the research literature needs to include more studies of self-esteem and its development in chronic illness groups using longitudinal and comparative designs. The aim of this study was to explore the trajectories of self-esteem and of positive and negative affect in persons with morbid obesity and in persons with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Methods: Patient education course attendants in Norway having morbid obesity (n=139) or COPD (n=97) participated in the study. Data concerning self-esteem, positive and negative affect, and sociodemographic background were collected at the start and at the end of the patient education, with subsequent follow-ups at 3, 6, and 12 months. Data were analyzed using linear mixed models for repeated measures. Results: Taking all measurements into account, our data revealed a statistically significant increase in self-esteem for participants with morbid obesity but not for those with COPD. There were no significant differences in levels of negative and positive affect between the two groups, and the time-trajectories were also similar. However, participants in both groups achieved lower levels of negative affect for all the successive measurement points. Conclusion: An increase in self-esteem during the first year after the patient education course was observed for persons with morbid obesity, but not for persons with COPD. Initial higher levels of self-esteem in the participants with COPD may indicate that they are less troubled with low self-esteem than people with morbid obesity are. The pattern of reduced negative affect for both groups during follow-up is promising.