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Keywords:

  • coping;
  • health behaviour;
  • illness behaviour;
  • outcomes;
  • nursing research

A framework for the study of coping, illness behaviour and outcomes

This paper presents a theoretical framework for the study of coping, illness attribution, health behaviour and outcomes. It is based upon models developed within health psychology and aims to provide a theoretical basis for nurse researchers to utilize psychosocial variables. It is an interactionist model which views outcomes as dependent upon both situation and person variables. The situation is viewed as the health threat or illness symptoms as well as the psychosocial context within which the person is operating. This context includes socio-economic factors, social support, social norms, and external factors such as the mass media. The experience of health threat is dependent upon individual appraisal, and the framework incorporates Folkman and Lazarus' transactional model of stress, as well as Leventhal's illness representation model. Behaviour and the perception of threat are also dependent upon outcome expectancies and the appraisal of one's own coping resources, and so the concepts of locus of control and self-efficacy are also incorporated. This framework allows one to identify determinants of behaviour and outcome, and will aid nurses in identifying areas for psycho-social intervention.