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'It was all intertwined': Illness representations and self-management in patients with cancer and anxiety/depression


Richardson, EM and Scott, JL and Schuz, N and Sanderson, K and Schuz, B, 'It was all intertwined': Illness representations and self-management in patients with cancer and anxiety/depression, Psychology & Health, 32, (9) pp. 1082-1108. ISSN 0887-0446 (2017) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2017 Informa UK

DOI: doi:10.1080/08870446.2017.1324970


Objective: Cancer and anxiety/depression frequently co-occur, leading to poorer outcomes for these illnesses. However, the majority of existing research investigates how participants view single illnesses alone. This study aimed to explore the content of individuals’ multimorbid representations and how these relate to their coping behaviours and self-management strategies for cancer and anxiety/depression.

Design: A semi-structured qualitative research design with theoretical thematic analysis.

Main Outcome Measures: Multimorbid illness representations, coping behaviours, and self-management strategies.

Results: In interviews with 21 participants multimorbid representations varied, three participants viewed cancer and anxiety/depression as unrelated, five participants were uncertain about the relationship between cancer and anxiety/depression, and the majority of participants perceived cancer and anxiety/depression as related. This third group of participants often described relationships as causal, with representations having both positive and negative influences on coping behaviours and self-management strategies. Representations were shown to change over the course of the cancer experience, with fear of cancer recurrence and the influence of participants’ most challenging illness also discussed.

Conclusions: People hold multimorbid illness representations that can influence self-management. An awareness of these representations by researchers, health professionals, and patients is important for the creation of future interventions that aim to improve and maintain patient wellbeing.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:cancer, anxiety, depression, multimorbidity, illness representations
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Clinical and health psychology
Research Field:Health psychology
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Behaviour and health
UTAS Author:Richardson, EM (Dr Emma Richardson)
UTAS Author:Scott, JL (Professor Jenn Scott)
UTAS Author:Schuz, N (Dr Natalie Schuez)
UTAS Author:Sanderson, K (Associate Professor Kristy Sanderson)
UTAS Author:Schuz, B (Dr Benjamin Schuez)
ID Code:116750
Year Published:2017
Web of Science® Times Cited:8
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2017-05-18
Last Modified:2018-07-25

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