Modifiable correlates of illness perceptions in adults with chronic somatic conditions: A systematic review

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When individuals become ill, they want to understand and give meaning to their illness. The interpretation of this illness experience, or illness perception, is influenced by a range of individual, contextual, and cultural factors. Some of these factors may be modifiable by nursing interventions. The purpose of this systematic review was to investigate which modifiable factors were correlated with illness perceptions across studies of adults with different chronic somatic diseases. Using search terms tailored to each of four electronic databases, studies retrieved were reviewed by two independent evaluators, and each relevant article was assessed for methodological quality. Results were standardized by calculating correlation coefficients. Fifteen papers on illness perceptions in a variety of chronic diseases met the inclusion criteria. All used standardized measures of illness perceptions. We identified five groups of modifiable correlates of illness perceptions: illness-related factors, psychosocial factors, medication beliefs, information provision and satisfaction with information received, and quality of care. Our findings add to the knowledge of modifiable factors correlated with illness perceptions, including the importance of illness-related factors and psychosocial factors such as anxiety and depression. Knowledge of these correlates can facilitate understanding of patients' illness perceptions and might be useful in tailoring patient education programs.

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