Chronic illness in adolescents: Self-perceptions, control, and illness reasoning
Weiner, Hedy Wald
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The present research was an exploratory attempt to examine the impact of chronic illness on self-perception, perceptions of control, illness conceptualization, and perceived social support in adolescents. The relationships between these aspects of psychological adjustment were considered and an attempt was made to determine the usefulness of a differentiated, domain-specific approach to measurement of self-perceptions and perceptions of control. In addition, notions of psychological control over alleviation of illness were probed.;Fifty-five subjects between the ages of 11 and 17 years participated in this study: 25 ill adolescents with various diagnoses and 30 healthy adolescent controls. The subjects were individually administered the Self-Perception Profile, Multidimensional Measure of Children's Perceptions of Control, Illness Causality Questionnaire, and Perceived Social Support Questionnaire. Intellectual functioning was assessed with the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test- Revised.;The results indicated that ill adolescents did not differ significantly from the healthy control group on self-perceptions across several domains (cognitive, social, physical-athletic, and general self-worth), on most perceptions of control, on level of illness causality reasoning, and on number of perceived social supports. Ill adolescents were found to perceive greater unknown control over the cognitive domain and less internality for successes in the cognitive domain. Upon further analyses, these obtained differences appeared to be due more to the groups differing on other independent variables than to the ill/healthy distinction itself. Parental marital status, in particular, was significantly correlated with the variable of perceived unknown control over the cognitive domain and with a variety of other self-perception and perceived control variables. An individual living with married parents was found to be more likely to have less unknown control over cognitive outcomes, greater cognitive, social, and athletic competence perceptions, and less self-derogation.;Exploratory factor analyses suggested considerable relationship among the factor structures for the ill and healthy groups. Some diversity was noted in that general self-worth was not well differentiated from the other self-perception domains for the ill group. In addition, powerful others control and unknown control perceptions were not as well differentiated for the ill group as for the healthy group. Correlations between self-perception and control subscales are described. (Abstract shortened with permission of author.).