Background: The Common Sense Model (CSM) of illness representations was used in the current study to examine the relative contribution of illness perceptions and coping strategies in explaining adjustment to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Methods: Participants were 80 adults consecutively attending an outpatients' clinic with a diagnosis of either Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. Respondents completed and returned a questionnaire booklet that assessed illness perceptions, coping, and adjustment. Adjustment was measured from the perspectives of psychological distress, quality of life, and functional independence.
Results: Illness perceptions (particularly perception of consequences of IBD) were uniformly the most consistent variables explaining adjustment to IBD. Coping did not significantly add to predicting adjustment once illness perceptions were controlled for and therefore did not mediate the relationship between illness perceptions and adjustment, as proposed in the CSM.
Conclusions: The results suggest the importance of addressing illness perceptions in developing appropriate psychological interventions for IBD.