“Why Me?”: An Attributional Analysis of a Major Illness

Authors

  • Joseph Ducette,

    1. Dr. Joseph DuCette is professor and chairman of the Department of Educational Psychology at Temple University, Philadelphia, PA. Dr. Anne Keane is an associate professor and program director of adult health and illness nursing in the College of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.
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  • Anne Keane

    1. Dr. Joseph DuCette is professor and chairman of the Department of Educational Psychology at Temple University, Philadelphia, PA. Dr. Anne Keane is an associate professor and program director of adult health and illness nursing in the College of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.
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Abstract

The applicability of attribution theory in general, and Weiner's model in particular, to a medical setting was investigated. Patients undergoing thoracic surgery were interviewed before and after surgery to ascertain why they thought they had the disease and why they were recovering at an adequate or inadequate rate from the surgery. These data were analyzed to answer two primary questions. First, to what extent can Weiner's academically-based attribution model be applied to a medical setting? Secondly, do the attributions that patients make about the cause of their disease affect their ability to recover from it? The results indicated that Weiner's theory can be applied to this situation, although a modification in one major dimension of the theory (the Locus dimension) seems warranted. In addition, the causal attributions that patients made about their disease correlated with recovery, although the pattern of attributions for successful patients was complex and theoretically ambiguous. Suggestions for modifying Weiner's model to make the theory more applicable to a medical setting are presented.

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