Further development of an illness perception intervention for myocardial infarction patients: a randomized controlled trial

J Psychosom Res. 2009 Jul;67(1):17-23. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2008.12.001. Epub 2009 Mar 4.


Objective: To further develop and trial a brief in-hospital illness perception intervention for myocardial infarction (MI) patients.

Methods: One hundred and three patients admitted with acute MI were randomized to receive either standard care or standard care plus an illness perception intervention, which consisted of three half-hour patient sessions and one half-hour patient-and-spouse session delivered in hospital. Patients were followed up to 6 months. The main outcome was the difference between groups in rate of return to work.

Results: The intervention group had a faster rate of return to work than the control group, and more patients in the intervention group had returned to full time work by 3 months than in the control group. At discharge, patients in the intervention group demonstrated changes in causal attributions regarding their MI and higher perceived understanding of their condition, which remained at the 6-month follow-up. They also reported a better understanding of the information given in hospital, higher intentions to attend cardiac rehabilitation classes, lower anxiety about returning to work, greater increases in exercise, and made fewer phone calls to their general practitioner about their heart condition at follow-up.

Conclusion: This study replicates the findings of an earlier trial that a brief in-hospital illness perception intervention can change perceptions and improve rates of return to work in MI patients. It increases the generalizability of the intervention to the current broader definition of MI and to patients who have had previous infarcts.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health*
  • Coronary Artery Bypass / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Behavior
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Illness Behavior*
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Myocardial Infarction / epidemiology*
  • Myocardial Infarction / rehabilitation
  • Myocardial Infarction / therapy*
  • Patient Compliance
  • Patient Discharge
  • Surveys and Questionnaires