Illness perception and adherence to healthy behaviour in Jordanian coronary heart disease patients


Sultan M Mosleh and Mona MA Almalik

European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing  2014, 1–8


Background: Patients diagnosed with coronary heart disease are strongly recommended to adopt healthier behaviours and adhere to prescribed medication. Previous research on patients with a wide range of health conditions has explored the role of patients’ illness perceptions in explaining coping and health outcomes. However, among coronary heart disease patients, this has not been well examined.
Objective: The purpose of this study was to explore coronary heart disease patients’ illness perception beliefs and investigate whether these beliefs could predict adherence to healthy behaviours.
Methods: A multi-centre cross-sectional study was conducted at four tertiary hospitals in Jordan. A convenience sample of 254 patients (73% response rate), who visited the cardiac clinic for routine review, participated in the study. Participants completed a self-reported questionnaire, which included the Brief Illness Perception Questionnaire, the Godin Leisure Time Activity questionnaire and the Morisky Medication Adherence Scale.
Results: Patients reported high levels of disease understanding (coherence) and they were convinced that they were able to control their condition by themselves and/or with appropriate treatment. Male patients perceived lower consequences (p<0.05) and had a better understanding of their illness than female patients (p<0.001). There were significant associations between increasing age and each of timeline (r=0.326, p<0.001), (r=0.146, p<0.024) and coherence (r=−0.166, p<0.010). Adjusted regression analysis showed that exercise adherence was predicted by both a strong perception in personal control (β 2.66, 95% confidence interval 1.28–4.04), timeline (β –1.85, 95% confidence interval 0. 8–2.88) and illness coherence (β 2.12, 95% confidence interval 0.35–3.90). Medication adherence was predicted by perception of personal control and treatment control. Adherence to a low-fat diet regimen was predicted by perception of illness coherence only (odds ratio 12, 95% confidence interval 1.04–1.33). Finally, the majority of patients thought that the cause of their heart problem was related to coronary heart disease risk factors such as obesity and high-fat meals.
Conclusion: Patients’ illness beliefs are candidates for a psycho-educational intervention that should be targeted at improved disease management practices and better adherence to recommended healthy behaviours.


Coronary heart disease, patients’ illness perception, adherence to healthy behaviours