Symptom representations and affect as determinants of care seeking in a community-dwelling, adult sample population

Health Psychol. 1993 May;12(3):171-9. doi: 10.1037//0278-6133.12.3.171.


The cognitive and emotional determinants of health-care utilization were assessed for middle-aged and older adults matched on age, gender, and health status. Both members of a pair were interviewed when either initiated a medical visit. Interviews were based on a self-regulatory model that assumed that Ss would use symptoms to create and update representations and coping procedures. Care seekers reported more symptoms than did matched controls but did not report more symptoms than did matched controls with new symptoms. The mere presence of atypical symptoms was insufficient to trigger care seeking. Care seeking is driven by well-developed representations of a serious health threat, perceptions of inability to cope with the threat, advice to seek care, and life stress.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Female
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology