Conceptualizing and Measuring Illness Self-Concept: A Comparison With Self-Esteem and Optimism in Predicting Fibromyalgia Adjustment

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Illness self-concept (ISC), or the extent to which individuals are consumed by their illness, was theoretically described and evaluated with the Illness Self-Concept Scale (ISCS), a new 23-item scale, to predict adjustment in fibromyalgia. To establish convergent and discriminant validity, illness self-concept was compared to self-esteem and optimism in predicting health status, illness intrusiveness, depression, and life satisfaction. The ISCS demonstrated good reliability (α=.94; test-retest r=.80) and was a strong predictor of outcomes, even after controlling for optimism or self-esteem. The ISCS predicted unique variance in health-related outcomes; optimism and self-esteem did not, providing construct validation. Illness self-concept may play a significant role in coping with fibromyalgia and may prove useful in the evaluation of other chronic illnesses.

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