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Illness beliefs in schizophrenia

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>10/2006
<mark>Journal</mark>Social Science and Medicine
Issue number7
Number of pages12
Pages (from-to)1900-1911
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Beliefs about health and illness shape emotional responses to illness, health-related behaviour and relationships with health-care providers in physical illness. Researchers are beginning to study the illness beliefs of people with psychosis, primarily using models developed in relation to physical illness. It is likely that modifications to these models will be necessary if they are to apply to mental disorders, and it is probable that some of the assumptions underlying the models will be inappropriate. In particular, different dimensions of understanding may be present in mental illness in comparison to those identified in physical illness. The present study examines the beliefs of 20 patients in the UK diagnosed with schizophrenia, including 10 currently psychotic inpatients and 10 outpatients in remission, about their experiences, using qualitative interviews and thematic analysis. Patients currently experiencing psychosis did not identify their experiences as separable 'illnesses' and did not have 'illness beliefs'. Patients currently in a period of remission appraised their experiences as distinct from their own normal behaviour, but used conceptual frameworks of understanding that deviated significantly from conventional 'health belief models. Patients' ways of understanding mental illness did not parallel those described in physical illnesses. Methods for assessing beliefs about mental illness should therefore not be transferred directly from studies of beliefs about physical illness, but should be tailored to the nature of patients' beliefs about mental illness. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.