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Assessing illness representations of chronic illness: explorations of their disease-specific nature

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By Heijmans M, de Ridder D • www.ProHealth.com • October 15, 1998


Elaborating on the five-dimensional structure of illness
representation, as described in the self-regulation model of
Leventhal (1980), the present study is aimed at identifying
the relevance of this generic structure for two chronic
illnesses: chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and Addison's
disease (AD). Factor analyses showed the importance of the
five dimensions identity, time-line, control/cure, cause, and
consequences to differ according to the type of disease. That
is, the items representing the five dimensions merged together
for CFS patients and AD patients in a different manner and
thereby produced different factor solutions for the two
patient groups. In CFS patients, a four- factor solution was
identified with manageability, seriousness, personal
responsibility, and external cause as the factors. In AD
patients a four-factor solution was also identified but with
seriousness, cause, chronicity, and controllability as the
factors. The value of these findings for our understanding of
the disease-specific nature of illness representation is
discussed.




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