Chapter 8: Using health services
How do we recognize symptoms?
1) individual differences in personality: hypochondriacs are the people who are preoccupied
and worries that normal bodily symptoms are an illness. So they basically convert their distress
into physical symptoms like back pain, joint pain, etc. women are NOT more likely than men to
be hypochondriacs, but old people generally have these behaviours.
- neuroticism is negative emotions, self consciousness, and one’s concern with their bodily pro-
cesses. These people recognize their symptoms more quickly or they are simply more sensitive
2) cultural differences: Japanese women are healthier but they report less menopause symp-
toms because in their language, the word menopause has a whole different meaning.
3) attentional differences: some people are quicker to notice these symptoms because they are
so focused on themselves. However, other people who are more social are more easily distract-
ed and thus attend less to themselves and do not notice their symptoms as quickly as others do.
4) situational factors: boring situation, people are more attentive to their symptoms; distracted
people are less attentive to their symptoms. medical students’ disease is when medical stu-
dents read about illness which eventually leads them to focus on their internal states and inter-
pret them as illnesses.
5) stress: stress and precipitate or aggravate the symptoms; people who are under stress are
more likely to think that they have problems.
6) mood: people who are in a positive mood rate themselves as more healthy and rate their
symptoms as less harmful. Even people who have diagnosed illnesses report fewer or less seri-
ous symptoms when they are in a positive mood.
- when attention is directed outwards, less symptoms are noticed, whereas when symptoms are
How do we interpret symptoms?
1) prior experience: people who have experiences with a medical condition estimate the preva-
lence of their symptoms to be greater and regard the condition as less serious. People also think
that the rarer the disease, the more serious it is.
2) expectations: people may ignore symptoms they are not expecting and amplify those that
they do expect. close to menstruation and feel back pain -> blame it in on menstruation. But
when experiencing these symptoms when NOT expecting menstruation, dismiss them.
3) seriousness of the symptoms: symptoms that affect the highly valued parts of the body are
considered more serious. And if a symptom causes pain, people are more likely to seek treat-
ment, as opposed if it doesn’t cause pain.
Cognitive representations of illness: 1) illness schemas: people have concepts of health and illness that influence how they react to
symptoms. illness representations or schemas are those organized concepts of illness that
are acquired through the media, by friends and family, personal experience, and particular disor-
2) the self regulatory model of illness: illness has five schemas:
1) its identity or name or label
2) consequences or the symptoms that are required
3) causes or the factors that a person thinks gave rise to the illness; environmental or
4) duration or how long the illness will last
5) cure or whether the person believes illness can be cured through appropriate treat-
- acute illness: specific viral or bacterial agents; short in duration
- chronic illness: health habits, long duration, ex flu.
- cyclic illness: alternating periods between when there is illness and when there isn’t any ill-
- the disease model a person holds greatly influences their behaviour related to that disease.
The lay referral network is an informal network of family and friends who offer their own inter-
pretations of symptoms well before any medication is sought. Especially prevalent in ethnic
communities. Natural health products that include vitamins, minerals, herbal remedies, and teas
and plant products can be used.
- the internet is a lay referral network of its own. Women are twice as likely to look for health in-
formation online, and so are households that