Ann Conkle
Jan 27, 2012

Mind over matter: Patients' perceptions of illness make a difference

There are many different factors that come together to influence the course of an illness. Additional medical conditions, stress levels, and social support all have an impact on health. But a new report suggests that what you think about your illness also matters. In the February issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science, researchers review the existing literature on patients' perceptions of illness. The authors find that people's illness perceptions bear a direct relationship to several outcomes, including their level of functioning and ability, utilization of health care, adherence to treatment plans laid out by health care professionals, and even overall mortality. Some research suggests that how a person views his illness may play a bigger role in his health outcomes than the actual severity of his disease. Research confirms that brief, straightforward psychoeducational interventions can modify negative illness beliefs and improve a range of health outcomes.