Notwithstanding heterogeneity, methodological quality issues and the limited evidence presented, all studies report significant findings between one or more illness perception dimensions and measures of work participation. Descriptive analyses show non-working people perceive more negative consequences of their illness, which was reported in both cross-sectional and longitudinal studies. The other illness perception dimensions were significant in some but not in all studies. In the hierarchical multivariate analyses, the added benefit PX-478 of the illness perception dimensions consequences (McCarthy et al. 2003) or timeline (Boot et al. 2008), above that for other socio-demographic
and medical variables was shown, of which only McCarthy et al. (2003) showed a temporal relationship. From the latter longitudinal study (McCarthy et al. 2003), it can be deducted, even for a relatively short period of sick leave and independent of other factors, how the Captisol mouse score on the timeline scale is related to real sick leave. One-day increase in patients’ expectations of return to normal activities will also increase sick leave by 1/3 day, independent of other factors.
Based on the results in above, it would be interesting to further investigate which individual illness perception dimensions or which combinations of illness perception dimensions would best predict future work disability in patients and target these with interventions at an early stage, if possible. Our
review shows that illness perceptions play a role across several illnesses, ranging from acute trauma to chronic diseases. One could ask whether the relationship between illness perception and work participation depends on the type of complaints or disease. Although illness perception dimensions play a role in many diseases, the degree to which patients have ‘unhelpful’ or ‘maladaptive’ illness perceptions varies. For example, differences in the severity of maladaptive illness perception dimensions have been found between patients with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis and coronary Metalloexopeptidase heart disease (Moss-Morris and Chalder 2003; van Ittersum et al. 2009). However, whether this also affects the strength of the relationship between illness perceptions and work participation remains to be seen and is not evident from this review. Similarly, it has been suggested that later in the course of the disease, as opposed to more acute conditions, symptoms and disability levels stabilize as recovery is slowing down, which may provide weaker associations between illness perceptions and work participation (compared to acute disease) (Iles et al. 2009) but we did not observe this difference in our small sample of studies. A few comments can be made about the instruments used to measure illness perceptions in this review before their application or practical use is considered.