Illness Behaviors: Five Stages of Illness Behavior

Illness behavior

Illness behavior is a coping mechanism when people become ill. They behave in certain ways, highly individualized to describe, monitor, and interpret their symptoms, take medical actions, and use health care systems.

Suchman is the one who describes the five stages of illness behavior namely: Symptoms, sick role, medical care contact, dependent client role, and recovery. But not all clients progress through each stage. For example, the client who experiences a sudden heart attack is taken to the emergency room and immediately enters 3 and 4, medical care contact and dependent client role. Let us discuss more about the stages.

Stage 1: Symptom Experiences

At this stage, the client is aware that there is something wrong by any means, either someone significant mentions that the client looks unwell, or they experience some symptoms such as pain, rash, cough, fever, or bleeding.
During this stage, the un-well client usually consults others about the symptoms of feelings, validating with a spouse or support people that the symptoms are real. In some cases, client denies the symptoms or just ignore it while others try to self medicate.
This Stage 1 has three aspects:
- The physical experience of symptoms
- The cognitive aspect or the interpretation of the symptoms in terms that have some meaning to the person
- The emotional response like fear or anxiety

Stage 2: Assumption of the Sick Role

This stage is the acknowledgement of the presence of health disturbance. The client is now accepts the sick role and seeks confirmation from family and friends. Often people continue with self-treatment and delay contact with health care professionals as long as possible.
During this stage people may be excused from normal duties and role expectations. Emotional responses such as withdrawal, anxiety, fear and depression are not uncommon depending on the severity of the illness, perceived degree of disability, and anticipated duration of the illness. When symptoms of illness persist or increase, the person is motivated to seek professional help.

Stage 3: Medical Care Contact

The client now seeks for professional help either on their own initiative or at the urging of significant others. When client seek professional advice, they are commonly asking for the confirmation of real illness, the explanation of the symptoms in understandable terms and reassurance that they will be alright or what that outcome will be.
The health professional may determine that the client does not have an illness or that an illness is present, and may even be life threatening. The client may accept or deny the diagnosis. If the diagnosis is accepted, the client usually follows true prescribed treatment plan. If diagnosis is not accepted, the client may seek the advice of other health care professionals or what others usually called "second opinion."

Stage 4: Dependent Client Role

After accepting the illness and seeking treatment, the client becomes dependent on the professional. In short, this stage is the dependence on health care professionals. People vary greatly in the degree of ease with which they can give up their independence, particularly in relation to life and death.
Most clients accept their dependence on the physician, although they retain varying degrees of control over their own lives. For example, some client request precise information about their disease, their treatment and they delay the decision to accept treatment until they have all this information. Others prefer that the physician proceed with treatment and do not request additional information.

Stage 5: Recovery and Rehabilitation

During this stage, the client is expected to give up the dependent role and resume former roles and responsibilities. For clients with acute illness, the time as ill clients is generally short and recovery is usually rapid. Thus most find it relatively easy to return to their former lifestyles. For those clients with long-term illnesses and must adjust their lifestyles may find recovery more difficult. Those clients with a permanent disability, this final stage may require therapy to learn how to make major adjustments in functioning.

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good job, how may i please cite this information in my work?

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