Illness perceptions predict reassurance following a negative exercise stress testing result

Liesje Donkin, Christopher J. Ellis, Rachael Powell, Elizabeth Broadbent, Greg Gamble, Keith J. Petrie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many patients are not reassured after receiving normal results following cardiac investigations. While previous studies have shown anxiety to be a contributing factor, little research has investigated the influence of patients’ illness perceptions on reassurance. In this study we investigated whether illness perceptions predicted patients’ reassurance following normal exercise stress test results. Sixty-two chest pain patients without prior diagnosed cardiac pathology completed questionnaires assessing anxiety and illness perceptions prior to exercise stress testing. Patients completed a reassurance questionnaire immediately following their appointment and again one month later. Illness perceptions (consequences, timeline, identity, illness concern, and emotional effect) but not anxiety, significantly predicted reassurance immediately following testing. We found both state anxiety and illness perceptions to predict reassurance one month later. After controlling for anxiety, longer timeline and lower treatment control beliefs predicted lower reassurance. The results suggest that an intervention targeting patients who have high anxiety and negative illness perceptions prior to testing may improve reassurance and decrease disability and the subsequent use of medical care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-430
Number of pages10
JournalPsychology and Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • reassurance
  • illness perceptions
  • health non\-cardiac chest pain
  • excercise stress testing


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