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J Psychosom Res. 2007 Feb;62(2):129-38.

Do illness perceptions predict health outcomes in primary care patients? A 2-year follow-up study.

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The Research Clinic for Functional Disorders and Psychosomatics, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark. <>



Little is known about whether illness perceptions affect health outcomes in primary care patients. The aim of this study was to examine if patients' illness perceptions were associated with their self-rated health in a 2-year follow-up period.


One thousand seven hundred eighty-five primary care patients presenting a new or recurrent health problem completed an adapted version of the illness perception questionnaire and the Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36) at baseline and 3, 12, and 24 months' follow-up. Linear regressions were performed for (1) all patients, (2) patients without chronic disorders presenting physical disease, and (3) patients presenting medically unexplained symptoms (MUS).


Negative illness perceptions were associated with poor physical and mental health at baseline. They most strongly predicted changes in health status at follow-up for the whole group of patients. Patients presenting with MUS had more negative illness perceptions and lower mental and physical components subscale of the SF-36 scores at all time points.


Patients' perception of a new or recurrent health problem predicts self-reported physical and mental health up to 2 years after consulting the general practitioner and offers an obvious starting point for addressing nonbiomedical aspects of illness.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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