Background. Assessing illness perceptions has been useful in a range of medical disorders. This study of people with a recent relapse of their psychosis examines the relationship between illness perception, their emotional responses and their attitudes to medication.
Method. One hundred patients diagnosed with a non-affective psychotic disorder were assessed within 3 months of relapse. Measures included insight, self-reported illness perceptions, medication adherence, depression, self-esteem and anxiety.
Results. Illness perceptions about psychosis explained 46, 36 and 34% of the variance in depression, anxiety and self-esteem respectively. However, self-reported medication adherence was more strongly associated with a measure of insight.
Conclusions. Negative illness perceptions in psychosis are clearly related to depression, anxiety and self-esteem. These in turn have been linked to symptom maintenance and recurrence. Clinical interventions that foster appraisals of recovery rather than of chronicity and severity may therefore improve emotional well-being in people with psychosis. It might be better to address adherence to medication through direct attempts at helping them understand their need for treatment.