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Psychol Health. 2015;30(11):1274-87. doi: 10.1080/08870446.2015.1045511. Epub 2015 Jun 1.

Illness perceptions and self-care behaviours in the first years of living with type 2 diabetes; does the presence of complications matter?

Author information

a NIVEL, The Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research , Utrecht , The Netherlands.
b Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care , University Medical Center Utrecht , Utrecht , The Netherlands.
c Department of General Practice & Elderly Care Medicine , EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Medical Center , Amsterdam , The Netherlands.



To assess illness perceptions, self-care behaviours and their relationship in recently diagnosed type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) patients with and without diabetes-related complications.


Cross-sectional survey among 192 recently diagnosed T2DM patients of whom 23% reported the presence of diabetes-related complications. Illness perceptions and self-care were assessed by the Revised Illness Perception Questionnaire (IPQ-R) and the revised Summary of Diabetes Self-Care Activities (SDSCA) measure.


Generally, participating patients perceived T2DM as a chronic, but relatively controllable condition with minor consequences. In the presence of complications, however, T2DM was perceived as more unpredictable with more (serious) consequences and less controllable by self-care or medical treatment. Furthermore, engagement in exercise and foot care was reported more often by patients with complications. Self-care was related to certain illness perception dimensions, and interactions between perceptions and complications were found.


T2DM patients in the first years of their illness are often recommended to make lifestyle changes in the absence of noticeable diabetes-related symptoms or complaints. As many T2DM patients do not seem to perceive their condition to be serious and postpone lifestyle changes until diabetes-related complications appear, a major challenge for professionals is to convince asymptomatic patients of the importance of self-care.


complications; illness perceptions; self-care; type 2 diabetes mellitus

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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