Self-efficacy in chronic illness: The juxtaposition of general and regimen-specific efficacy

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Changes in lifestyle are difficult for most people but necessary for those with a chronic illness, for whom changes may involve, among other adjustments, learning new behaviours and/or modifying one's lifestyle. The ease with which such changes occur depends on the person's efficacy beliefs and outcome expectations. This paper will discuss the conceptual issues related to self-efficacy: general, domain, and specific. Examples will be drawn from the health-related behaviour changes required to manage diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. For this paper, regimen-specific or task-specific behaviour refers to the multiple tasks that the person carries out for management of their chronic illness. Confounding the issue of perceived efficacy (general, domain or specific), is the fact that compliance with all aspects of a recommended self-care regimen will not necessarily result in metabolic control for the person with type 1 diabetes mellitus, weight loss for the person with type 2 diabetes mellitus, or pain control for the arthritic person.

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