The common-sense model of self-regulation of health and illness was developed in the 1980s by Howard Leventhal and his colleagues (Diefenbach & Leventhal, 1996). It was based on Leventhal’s research from the prior decade that studied the effect of fear in relation to health related behaviors. The theory has various titles such as the, Self Regulation Theory, Common Sense Model of Illness Representation or Leventhal’s Theory (Hale et al, 2007). For ease of communication it will be referred to as the Common Sense Model (CSM). It’s primary goal and function is to explain how a person processes an illness threat. The CSM is centered on the individual and his or her idea of ...view middle of the document...
e. personality types and personal experiences) as well as social, environmental and cultural differences can lead to different representations and coping strategies. Leventhal’s theory puts a emphasis on the individual’s ability to actively reflect on their actions and emotions and the consequences that follow. The individuals attempt to return to the ‘normal’ state of health is thus referred to as self-regulation. The theory also states that what an individual’s interpretation of an illness is highly individualized and may not be in agreement with medical facts (Diefenbach & Leventhal, 1996).
* Stimulus / Health threat / Illness is the individual’s current experience of being sick. It is the symptoms the person is experiencing or being diagnosed with an illness (Fowler et al., 2007).
* Illness Representation/ Interpretation is the individual’s personal understanding and beliefs about their illness. There are five distinct attributes of illness representation. (Diefenbach & Leventhal, 1996).
* Identity is what the client labels the illness and what symptoms the client views as being part of the illness.
* Cause is the clients’ views about what may have caused their problem, such as poor health habits, trauma, family history/genetics, etc.
* Timeline is the clients’ view about how long their problem will last and whether it is seen as short term or long-term illness.
* Consequences are the effects the clients are expecting from their illness and their views on the outcome
* Cure/Control refers to the clients’ expectations as they recover from or manage and control the illness
* Coping refers to the actions taken by the individual to cope with the illness. The goal of the coping strategies is to decrease the emotional distress as well as alleviating or ending the illness. (Fowler et al., 2007). Coping strategies have been categorized as: avoidance/denial, cognitive reappraisal, expressing emotion, taking action/problem-focused coping and seeking social support. (Hagger & Orbell, 2003).
* Appraisal refers to the individual evaluating the effectiveness of the actions taken and coping strategies. The evaluation is comparisons of the perceived outcome versus the actual outcome. (Fowler et al., 2007).
The primary method used has been questionnaires and in-depth, semi-structured interviews to assess the different attributes of illness representation, coping methods and outcomes/appraisals. Leventhal and his colleagues suggest using both open and closed-ended questions. (Diefenbach & Leventhal, 1996). The drawback to this method is that it is time-consuming and has a high degree of variability in the responses and thus would be hard to properly analyze (Weinman et al., 1996). Researcher Petrie and his colleagues developed an Illness Perception Questionnaire (IPQ) that provides a quantitative measure of the five...