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Time from first symptom experience to help seeking for colorectal cancer patients: Associations with cognitive and emotional symptom representations

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OBJECTIVES: The aim was to assess the association between cognitive and emotional symptom representations prior to diagnosis and the length of the patient interval (i.e. the time from the first symptom is experienced until healthcare is sought) for colorectal cancer patients.

METHOD: The study population included 436 newly diagnosed colorectal cancer patients. Questionnaire data were collected using the Danish Revised Illness Perception Questionnaire (IPQ-R), including cognitive and emotional symptom representations and information on the patient interval.

RESULTS: High score in treatment control was associated with short patient interval (PR = 0.52, 95% CI: 0.31-0.89) and high score on the timeline cyclical dimension was associated with long patient interval (PR = 2.14, 95% CI: 1.29-3.57). Hence, patients with negative beliefs about the treatability of their symptoms and patients with strong beliefs about the cyclical nature of their symptoms were more likely to have a long patient interval. Assigning blood in stool as the most important symptom significantly interacted in the association between the patient interval and the two cognitive symptom representations consequence and personal control.

CONCLUSION: The results indicate that aspects of symptom representations were associated with the patient's help-seeking.

PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS: These findings may help clinicians and public health planners shorten patient intervals.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Pages (from-to)807-13
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - May 2016

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