Illness Perception and Quality of life in Breast Cancer Patients

Goranka Petriček, Klaudija Gospić, Gorka Vuletić, Venija Cerovečki, Zlata Ožvačić Adžić, Miroslav Hanževački

Keywords: Breast Cancer, Illness Perception, Family Medicine


Breast cancer (BC) is the most frequent cancer in women. Evidence suggests that the illness perception is closely related with the quality of life of BC patients

Research questions:

To investigate the illness perception in BC patients and its relation with the QOL.


Cross-sectional study was carried out in 100 BC patients in 18 Croatian family medicine practices. Patients completed two questionnaires: The Brief Illness Perception Questionnaire (Brief IPQ-B) and The World Health Organization quality of Life "WHOQOL – BREF" Questionnaire. Patients’ general and disease data were also collected. Statistic analysis was done using Statistika, version 7.1 statistic program, and values P<0.05 were considered statistically significant.


The patients mean age was 59.05 ± 11.3 years and duration of their BC was 57.39 ± 31.93 months. Distribution of patients' illness perception average scores (on 0-10 Thurston scale) showed higher scale range for: treatment control (8.6±1.8), personal control (7.3±2.5) and illness coherence (7.5±2.8); while lower scale range for: consequences (4.1±2.8), illness duration (4.0±3.1), concern (4.0±3.1), emotional response (4.0±3.1), timeline (4.0±3.1) and illness identity (2.7±2.6). QOL average values (on 1-5 Likert scale) showed tendency of higher scale range (3.6±0.6). Younger patients were significantly more concerned (p<0.01) and with greater emotional response (p<0.05) than older patients. Patients with shorter illness duration perceived significantly less treatment control (p<0.05) and their illness to have more consequences (p<0.01) than patients with longer illness duration. Patients who scored high on consequence (p<0.01), timeline (p<0.01), identity (p<0.05), concern (p<0.01) and emotional response (p<0.05) had significantly lower QOL.


Significant relationships between illness perception and QOL observed in BC patients imply strengthening BC patients’ emotional and social support could be helpful in improving their QOL.

Points for discussion: