Common-Sense Model of Self-Regulation of Health and Illness

In: Science

The common-sense model of self-regulation of health and illness was developed in the 1980s by Howard Leventhal and his colleagues (Diefenbach & Leventhal, 1996). It was based on Leventhal’s research from the prior decade that studied the effect of fear in relation to health related behaviors. The theory has various titles such as the, Self Regulation Theory, Common Sense Model of Illness Representation or Leventhal’s Theory (Hale et al, 2007). For ease of communication it will be referred to as the Common Sense Model (CSM). It’s primary goal and function is to explain how a person processes an illness threat. The CSM is centered on the individual and his or her idea of health and illness. It works under the premise that the individual is “an active problem solver.” CSM also theories an individual’s representation of the illness will be the primary cause of their actions and behavior and the process of illness representation will lead the individual to make common sense health behaviors. (Diefenbach & Leventhal, 1996). Self-regulation is the processing of information by a patient regarding their health and the actions that an individual takes to return to a normal state of health. A stimuli such as a symptom of an illness or a diagnosis starts a three-phase feedback cycle of self-regulation. First, the individual constructs a cognitive “representation” of the illness. Secondly, the individual acts and “copes” with the illness. In the third stage, the individual “appraises” the actions and makes necessary adjustments. The CSM is a “parallel-processing” model. There is the cognitive pathway as well as the emotional pathway. In the cognitive pathway, the individual works on the objective nature of the illness while on the emotional pathway they deal with the subjective reaction. Leventhal and his colleagues note that personal differences...

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