The goals of this review are: (1) to present the Leventhal common-sense model (CSM) of self-regulation of stress and coping with health threats as well as new directions and questions arising from this model, and (2) to apply this theoretical perspective to women's health issues in order to highlight concerns that are unique to women. Examples from research on women's health are reviewed to show: (a) how women apply decision rules to the internal and external information available to them in order to interpret their symptoms, in an attempt to reach a coherent representation of the health threat; (b) how these representations are related to women's choices of coping strategies and why they are often unrelated to actual coping; and (c) how women appraise their situation and in what ways this internal appraisal could differ from objective outcomes. Viewing coping with women's health issues through the lens of the CSM highlights the ways in which biological and social gender differences in the experience of illness and the interactions between them affect each stage of the self-regulation process (i.e., women's experience of the Stressor and the representations they form, how these representations guide coping, and women's appraisal of their situation). This review helps identify principles and general conclusions derived from the CSM and generalizes them across various threats to women's health, which should be taken into account when planning theoretically-based interventions to support women coping with health threats, as well as questions that should be investigated in future research.
- Gender differences
- Women's health