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Exploring misconceptions or potentially maladaptive beliefs about coronary heart disease and their relationship with coping behaviours among Taiwanese cardiac patients

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in developed countries. When people are diagnosed with any illness, the coping behaviours that they adopt are partly determined by their health beliefs. These beliefs are shaped both by the individual and by societal and cultural influences. Studies of patients diagnosed with CHD in Western countries indicate that, if patients hold misconceived or maladaptive beliefs, their self-management behaviours and quality of life may be adversely affected. In CHD, these erroneous beliefs include negative illness representations, inappropriate appraisals of the condition, and misconceptions about the heart disease processes, which may lead to unhelpful ways of coping with their condition. This paper is the first to explore the erroneous or potentially maladaptive beliefs of Taiwanese people who have been diagnosed with CHD. Leventhal’s self-regulatory model provided a theoretical framework for exploring the processes of self-regulation by the study participants, and the ways in which their beliefs influenced their coping strategies. The findings, based on in-depth interviews with 16 people recruited from inpatient and outpatient settings, revealed that cardiac patients’ explanations of, perceptions of and strategies for coping with illness are interrelated and may have a negative influence on coping and recovery. The implications of these findings for clinical practice and policy are discussed.

Author(s): Yu-Ping Lin, Karen Spilsbury, Gill Furze, Robert JP Lewin

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