Illness perceptions, risk perception and worry in SDH mutation carriers

Fam Cancer. 2014 Mar;13(1):83-91. doi: 10.1007/s10689-013-9680-5.


Succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) mutation carriers are predisposed for developing paragangliomas. This study aimed to explore illness perceptions, risk perception and disease-related worry in these individuals. All consecutive SDHB and SDHD mutation carriers followed at the Department of Endocrinology of the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC), a tertiary referral center, were eligible for inclusion. Illness perceptions were assessed using the validated Illness Perception Questionnaire-Revised and compared to reference populations. Risk perception and worry were measured by two items each and associations with illness perceptions explored. Twenty SDHB and 118 SDHD mutation carriers responded. Compared with various reference groups, SDH mutation carriers perceived less controllability of their condition. SDHB mutation carriers considered their condition to be less chronic in nature (p = 0.005) and perceived more personal (p = 0.018) and treatment control (p = 0.001) than SDHD mutation carriers. Mutation carriers with manifest disease reported more negative illness perceptions and a higher risk perception of developing subsequent tumors than asymptomatic mutation carriers. Illness perceptions, risk perception and disease-related worry were strongly correlated. Risk perception and disease-related worry may be assessed through illness perceptions. The development of interventions targeting illness perceptions may provide tools for genetic counseling.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Anxiety / genetics
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / psychology*
  • Heterozygote*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation
  • Paraganglioma / genetics
  • Perception
  • Succinate Dehydrogenase / genetics*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Succinate Dehydrogenase