Beliefs about the illness as predictors of emotional difficulties in cardiovascular patients


  • A. Pokrajac-Bulian
  • M. Kukic


Background: The aim of this research was to explore the relationship between illness perception, heart-focused anxiety, general anxiety, and depression in patients with cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Beck’s cognitive model and Leventhal's self-regulatory model were used as a theoretical background. Methods: The research design is correlational type. A sample of 177 patients (70.6% male; mean age 63.4 years; SD=11.78) hospitalized for a major cardiovascular event participated in this study. They completed the Revised Illness Perception Questionnaire, the Cardiac Anxiety Questionnaire, and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. Pearson correlations and regression analyses were computed. Findings: Data analysis showed that the fear of heart sensation is a partial mediator in the relationship between illness perceptions, depression and anxiety. Patients who believe they cannot control their illness (by themselves or by therapy) and have a lower understanding of it, reported higher levels of fear of heart sensation and consequently higher depression and anxiety. Patients with lower understanding of their illness and those who believe that their treatment is not efficient, focus more on the symptoms and are more anxious and depressed. In addition, lower understanding of CVD is related with avoiding activities that may trigger the symptoms, which increases depression. Discussion: The results of this study suggest that educating patients about their disease and modifying their maladaptive beliefs about the controllability of the illness, may reduce the anxiety due to CVD as well as general anxiety and depression in cardiac patients, which consequently may affect health behaviours and CVD recovery.





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