ScienceDaily (Jan. 27, 2012) — Whenever we fall ill, there are many different factors that come together to influence the course of our illness. Additional medical conditions, stress levels, and social support all have an impact on our health and well-being, especially when we are ill. But a new report suggests that what you think about your illness matters just as much, if not more, in determining your health outcomes.
In the February issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, Keith Petrie, of the University of Auckland, and John Weinman, of the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College, review the existing literature on patients’ perceptions of illness. The authors find that people’s illness perceptions bear a direct relationship to several important health 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.
In fact, some research suggests that how a person views his illness may play a bigger role in determining his health outcomes than the actual severity of his disease.