The Influence of Health Threat Communication and Personality Traits on Personal Models of Diabetes in Newly Diagnosed Diabetic Patients

Diabet Med. 2007 Aug;24(8):883-91. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-5491.2007.02155.x. Epub 2007 Apr 24.


Background: Personal models of diabetes, i.e. patients' beliefs about symptoms, treatment effectiveness, consequences (impact on life, seriousness) and emotional response to possible short- and long-term complications, have been associated with diabetes self-care behaviours. Little work has examined potential determinants of personal models.

Aims: To examine the influence of health threat communication and personality traits on personal models in newly diagnosed patients.

Methods: Newly diagnosed patients (n = 158; 32 Type 1 and 126 Type 2) completed the Big Five Personality Inventory, Diabetes Health Threat Communication Questionnaire (DHTCQ), Personal Models of Diabetes Interview-Adapted (PMDI) and Illness Perception Questionnaire-Revised (IPQ-R).

Results: Emotional responses to diabetes (PMDI) were associated with perceptions of a more threatening health message (22% explained variance), less emotional stability (5%) and the presence of dependent children (3%). Emotional representations (IPQ-R) were associated with a threatening health message (6%) and less emotional stability (15%). An adverse view of consequences (PMDI) was predicted by a more threatening/less reassuring health message (15%), less emotional stability (6%) and Type 1 diabetes (4%). Consequences (IPQ-R) were predicted by perceptions of a more threatening health message (20%), being less agreeable/cooperative (7%) and having dependent children (4%). Treatment effectiveness beliefs (PMDI) were associated with perceptions of a more reassuring health message (31%), younger age (3%) and more openness/intellect (2%).

Conclusions: Personal models of diabetes are influenced by health threat communication, demographic and personality factors. These findings support the concept of tailoring health messages to the needs of individual patients and provide information on factors to be taken into account in the education process.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health
  • Communication
  • Diabetes Mellitus / diagnosis
  • Diabetes Mellitus / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Education as Topic / statistics & numerical data
  • Personality*
  • Psychological Tests
  • Truth Disclosure