Illness beliefs and self-management in children and young people with chronic illness: a systematic review

Gary Law, Charlotte Tolgyesi, Ruth Howard

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


To review the extent to which illness representations, based on Leventhal’s Common Sense Model, relate to self-management in children and young people with chronic physical health conditions. A systematic literature review was carried out to identify relevant studies and each included paper was assessed for risk of bias. Fifteen papers met criteria for inclusion within the review. The majority of studies were cross-sectional, and small sample sizes for some studies made it difficult to generalise findings. The method of measuring both illness representations and outcomes varied. Timeline, identity, control and consequences beliefs were the most frequently assessed domains of illness representations included within the studies. While there is variability, there are indications that control beliefs, specifically treatment control beliefs, are more consistently and strongly associated with self-management than other representation domains. Control beliefs should be targeted for intervention in studies trying to improve adolescent self-management. In addition, the relationship between illness representations and self-management needs to be considered within both developmental and systemic contexts. It is likely that the variation in selfmanagement will be more fully explained in future research that explores the combined effects of individual representations and the influence of wider contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)362-380
JournalHealth Psychology Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2012


  • illness beliefs
  • illness representations
  • Chronic illness
  • chronic health condition
  • paediatric
  • self-care
  • self-management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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