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Chapter 8

Psychology 2036A/B Chapter Notes - Chapter 8: Health Care In Canada, Health Belief Model, Health Canada

Course Code
Doug Hazlewood

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Chapter 8: Using Health Services
LO1: Explain how people recognize and interpret symptoms
-Awareness of what is going on in our bodies is limited
which leaves room for social and psychological factors to
operate in the recognition and interpretation of illness
-Recognizing and interpreting symptoms is the first step
before seeking medical care
Recognition of a Symptom
-Some people maintain normal activities when they have
symptoms others take to their beds
Individual Differences and Personality
-Some people more likely to notice symptoms than others
hypochondriacs: preoccupied/worried that normal bodily symptoms are indicators of illness
only 4-5% of pop.
understanding who experiences symptoms more intensely is important for health
-Most frequent symptoms from patients who convert their distress into physical symptoms are
back pain, joint pain, pain in extremities, headache, abdominal symptoms, allergies, and
cardiovascular symptoms
-Women aren’t more likely to report these symptoms
-There are pronounced age effects w older people reporting more symptoms than young
-Neuroticism: pervasive dimension of personality marked by negative emotions, self-
consciousness, and a concern with bodily processes
people high in neuroticism recognize/report symptoms more quickly
exaggerate symptoms or are more attentive to real symptoms
-depression linked to ^ physical symptom reporting but only symptoms that were recalled
retrospectively, and linked to better retrieval of past symptoms
-Anxiety increased reports of physical symptoms only for concurrent or momentary and
heightens encoding of current symptoms
Cultural Differences
-Reasons underlying differences in symptom experience and reporting is not fully understood
-Cultural variations in the emotional responses associated with the experience of troubling
symptoms are partly responsible for observed differences
-Cultural differences in symptom reporting may be accounted for not only by socio-cultural
differences in language and meaning but also by bio variations in experience of symptoms
associated with diff lifestyles ex. how Japanese women report less symptoms during
menopause than do North American women
Situational Factors
-Boring situation makes people more attentive to symptoms than an interesting situation
-Intense physical activity takes attention away from symptoms, whereas quiescence increases
the likelihood of recognition
-Any situational factor that makes illness/symptoms esp. salient promotes their recognition ex.
medical student’s disease
-Can precipitate or aggravate experience of symptoms
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-People under stress may believe they are more vulnerable to illness and attend more closely
to their bodies
-Stressors can lead people to believe that they are ill bc they experience stress-related
physiological changes
-Symptoms people experience are real but perception/interpretation of the meaning of the
symptoms may be exaggerated under stress
-Influences self-appraised health
-Positive mood = more healthy, fewer illness-related memories and symptoms
when diagnosed w illness report fewer/less serious symptoms
-Negative mood = more symptoms, pessimistic, and vulnerable to future illness
-Symptom recognition determined by individual differences and by transitory situational factors
-When attention directed outward symptoms are less likely to be noticed and vice versa
Interpretation of Symptoms
-Heavily psychological process
-Understanding contextual factors surrounding symptom can provide valuable clues about how
it may be interpreted
-Individual, historical, cultural, and social factors all conspire to produce an interpretation
Prior Experience
-People who have experience w medical condition estimate prevalence of their symptoms to
be greater and often regard the condition as less serious
-Symptoms meaning influenced by how common it is within a person’s range of
-Highly prevalent risk factors/disorders are regarded as less serious than rare/distinctive risk
-Expecting symptoms activates brain areas associated with experience of symptoms, &
distracting oneself from symptoms reduces brain activity
Seriousness of Symptoms
-Symptoms that affect highly valued parts of the body are interpreted as more serious and as
more likely to require attention ex. when eyes/face are affected
-More serious/more likely to prompt seeking of treatment if it limits mobility or affects highly
valued organ
Cognitive Representations of Illness
Illness Schemas
-Illness representations: organized conceptions of illness acquired through media, personal
experience, family and friends
-Range from sketchy and inaccurate to extensive, technical, and complete
-Importance stems from that they lend coherence to a person’s comprehension of the illness
can influence people’s preventive health behaviours, reactions to symptoms, or adherence
to treatment recommendations and expectations for their health in the future
-Have 5 distinct components
IDENTITY: for an illness
CONSEQUENCES: symptoms and treatments
CAUSES: factors that gave rise to illness
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DURATION: expected length of time illness expected to last
CURE: if person believes it can be cured
-Illness conceptions develop early in life
-Most people have at least 3 models of illness
1. acute: caused by specific viral or bacterial agents, short in duration, no longterm
2. chronic: caused by several factors, long in duration, severe consequences
3. cyclic: alternating periods which there are either no symptoms or many symptoms ex.
-There is variability in the disease models that people hold for disorders, and can greatly
influence behaviour related to that disease
-Peoples conceptions of disease give basis for interpreting new info, influence treatment
seeking decisions, and can lead to alter/fail to adhere to meds
BOX 8.1 Do people recognize symptoms of serious illness?
-Recognizing certain symptoms of life-threatening illnesses may reflect a serious health
problem that requires immediate medial care
-Recognizing symptoms depends on an accurate illness schema
-Misinterpreting symptoms can have harmful consequences
-To avoid these problems is to help people develop accurate illness schemas through public
awareness campaigns ex. heart and stroke foundation campaign: ‘recognize the signs of
stroke when you see them’
there was significant increase in awareness of the warning signs
number of ER visits increased during the campaign, increased awareness may have led
more people to seek medical attention for suspected stroke
but stroke awareness is low in women, esp. of Chinese and South Africa decent
Lay Referral Network
-Defined: informal network of family and friends who offer their interpretations of symptoms
well before any medical treatment is sought
-Offers advice/support for the person experiencing troubling symptoms
patient may mention symptoms to a family member or co-worker, who may the respond
with personal views of what the symptom is likely to mean, may offer advice about
advisability of seeking medical treatment
-Seeking symptoms and other illness-related info from lay referral network is beneficial
simply looking to one’s ay referral network for advice may reinforce a commitment to
engaging in a healthy lifestyle
-Lay referral networks often recommend home remedies and other alternative forms as more
appropriate/effective than traditional meds
-WHO has taken the step of evaluation the efficacy of these treatments to catalogue all
alternative remedies to identify those that are successful and not risky and reduce/eliminate
use of those that are unsuccessful/risky
-In Canada, complementary and alternative therapies are gaining popularity and acceptance
and are less likely to be viewed as simply unconventional or folk medicine
-Natural health products (NHP) include vitamins, minerals, herbal remedies, tea, plant
-71% of Canadians trying NHPs, and 38% reporting daily use
-1/5 Canadians reported consulting a complementary and alternative therapy provider
-Most commonly, Canadians consult chiros, massage therapists, and acupuncturist, and use
vitamins, echinacea, and herbal remedies
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