Concepts of illness and perception of control in healthy children and in children with chronic illnesses

J Dev Behav Pediatr. 1988 Oct;9(5):252-6.


Healthy children, children with seizure disorders, and children with orthopedic conditions, ranging in age from 5 to 16 years old, were questioned about their knowledge of disease etiology, treatment, and prevention, and their health locus of control beliefs, to explore the relationship between illness-related concept attainment and perceived control over health. Children who perceived greater personal control over health demonstrated a more sophisticated conceptual understanding of disease than did children with a more external orientation. Healthy children scored significantly higher on the illness concepts questions and expressed significantly more internal health locus of control beliefs than did their peers with a chronic physical illness. Perceived control over health appears to be one factor that mediates the relationship between illness experience and understanding.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Bone Diseases, Developmental / psychology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Disease / psychology*
  • Concept Formation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Male
  • Seizures / psychology
  • Sick Role*