Health Sickness

About How the Sickness Disturbed the Patient

Published at 02/14/2012 16:23:05


Sickness perceptions are the organized representations that patients have about their ailments. They have been found to be important determinants of behavior, to be linked with numerous vital outcomes like treatment adherence and actual recovery. Often, patients' beliefs about their conditions are often different to those who are treating them. Also, patients' perceptions vary widely. Even those suffering with the same condition or injury can hold very dissimilar views of their illnesses.


"A doctor can make accurate diagnoses and have excellent treatment but if the therapy doesn't fit with the patient's view of their illness, they are unlikely to keep taking it," said Keith Petrie of the University of Auckland, who along with John Weinman of the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College, London, carried out research of the existing material on patients' perceptions of illness and how the sickness disturbed its bearer. How your sickness affects you is just as important in determining your health condition as any other factor. Furthermore, studying how the sickness disturbed or in any way affects patients contains beliefs about the personal consequences of the condition for the patient and their family, as well as the extent to which the illness is agreeable to personal control or treatment control.


Research investigating the role of illness perceptions in medical conditions has grown fast in recent years. This has been spurred initially by the development of scales to reliably measure illness beliefs, such as the Illness Perception Questionnaire (IPQ), and subsequently by the strong associations found between patients' perceptions of their illness and behavioral outcomes. Such various researches and studies carried out have brought to light the fact that how the sickness disturbed or otherwise affected a patient may be a more important factor in determining his condition than the actual seriousness of his sickness. Chronic illnesses may produce feelings of helplessness, frustration, hopelessness and/or great sadness. It is common to experience resentment at being ill or requiring others' help in tasks previously you were able to manage all by yourself, and sheer grief at losing your usual way of life. Regardless of the source or cause of the sickness, there is a powerful emotional component which in itself creates a need for treatment and support. All of the aforementioned show how the sickness disturbed the patient and prove to be a hassle in his road to recovery.

Tips and Comments

The bottom line, according to Keith Petrie, is that "patients' perceptions of their illness guide their decisions about health." If we feel like a prescribed treatment isn't making us feel better we must stop that treatment. Doctors should fully focus on how the sickness disturbed the patient. Taking into account how the sickness disturbed the patient gives physicians and doctors the chance to find out and correct any inaccurate beliefs their patients may hold. Weeding out false perceptions in patients' minds about how the sickness disturbed them will dramatically change the way they view it, renew hope of returning to their way of life and subsequently speed up their recovery.