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Kevin R. Criswell, Ph.D.

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Introduction: Over one-third of undergraduate students report having at least one mental or physical chronic health condition (CHC). Stigma is associated with undesirable emotion/mood, worse quality of life, and diminished academic performance. Less is known about (a) whether emotional experiences may be regulated differently between students with and without CHCs and (b) whether negative and positive emotion regulation are differentially associated with stigma awareness and internalized stigma in students with CHCs. The present study examines cross-sectional survey data from Fall 2020 quarter.

Method: Students without CHCs (n = 51) and students with CHCs (n = 150) were sampled from Eastern Washington University using emailed invitations and online surveys. The Stigma Consciousness and Self Stigma scales assessed stigma awareness and internalized stigma, respectively. The Emotion Regulation Questionnaire assessed positive, negative, and neutral emotion regulation. ANOVAs and t-tests were utilized to assess mean differences between groups on levels of emotion regulation. Pearson correlations were used to assess associations between emotion regulation stigma measures. Significance was set to p < .05.

Results: Students with co-occurring mental and physical CHCs reported significantly greater negative emotion suppression compared to students with only mental CHCs and those without CHCs. Positive emotion suppression was positively correlated with internalized stigma in students with mental CHCs, regardless if it was only or co-occurring with physical CHCs.

Discussion: This study fills a gap in the literature on emotion regulation in populations that report experiencing stigma. This study highlights the importance of assessing positive and negative emotion regulation separately.


Funding for this study was provided by grants from the American Psychological Foundation and Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology.

The authors have no conflicts of interest.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.