Background: Although osteoporosis is a major public concern, little research attention has been paid to evaluating the manner in which osteoporotic patients perceive their illness.The aim of the current study was to examine osteoporotic patients' cognitive and emotional illness representations and to see, specifically, if any differences could be correlated with gender. Methods: A convenience sample of 102 women and 100 men (mean age 66 years in both groups) who were diagnosed with osteoporosis, and who were attending bone and mineral clinics at four major medical centers in Israel, participated in the study. Participants were interviewed face-to-face at the clinics or in their homes, using an adapted version of the Illness Perceptions Questionnaire (IPQ). Emotional illness representations were assessed using the state anxiety subscale from the State-Trait Personality Inventory (SPTI). Results: Participants perceived osteoporosis as a chronic but controllable disease. They perceived the disease as having few symptoms and mild consequences on their lives. Conclusions: Osteoporotic patients maintained a logical cognitive and emotional structure of their illness. Regarding gender differences, findings showed that women were more pessimistic than men regarding most of the illness representations' dimensions. Gender differences in illness representations suggest women and men may benefit from different intervention programs, tailored according to their unique perceptions.
- Gender differences
- Illness perceptions