Self-efficacy in depression: Bridging the gap between competence and real-world functioning

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Milanovic, Melissa
competence , functioning , depression , adaptive , interpersonal , self-efficacy
Background: Depression is the largest contributing factor to years lost to disability, and symptom remission does not always result in functional improvement. Comprehensive analysis of functioning requires investigation both of the competence to perform behaviours, as well as actual performance in the real world. Further, two independent domains of functioning have been proposed: adaptive (behaviours conducive to daily living skills and independent functioning) and interpersonal (behaviours conducive to the successful initiation and maintenance of social relationships). To date, very little is known about the relationship between these constructs in depression, and the factors that may play a key role in the disparity between competence and real-world performance in adaptive and interpersonal functioning. Purpose: This study used a multidimensional (adaptive and interpersonal functioning), multi-level (competence and performance) approach to explore the potential discrepancy between competence and real-world performance in depression, specifically investigating whether self-efficacy (one’s beliefs of their capability to perform particular actions) predicts depressed individuals’ underperformance in the real world relative to their ability. A comparison sample of healthy participants was included to investigate the level of depressed individuals’ impairment, across variables, relative to healthy individuals. Method: Forty-two participants with depression and twenty healthy participants without history of, or current, psychiatric illness were recruited in the Kingston, Ontario community. Competence, self-efficacy, and real-world functioning all in both adaptive and interpersonal domains, and symptoms were assessed during a single-visit assessment. Results: Relative to healthy individuals, depressed individuals showed significantly poorer adaptive and interpersonal competence, adaptive and interpersonal functioning, and significantly lower self-efficacy for adaptive and interpersonal behaviours. Self-efficacy significantly predicted functional disability both in the domain of adaptive and interpersonal functioning. Interpersonal self-efficacy accounted for significant variance in the discrepancy between interpersonal competence and functioning. Conclusions: The current study provides the first data regarding relationships among competence, functioning, and self-efficacy in depression. Self-efficacy may play an important role in the deployment of functional skills in everyday life. This has implications for therapeutic interventions aimed at enhancing depressed individuals’ engagement in functional activities. There may be additional intrinsic or extrinsic factors that influence the relationships among competence and functioning in depression.
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