Discussion Questions

A. Briefly explain the common sense model of illness? Do you believe the experimental evidence has supported its usefulness in accounting for illness perceptions?

B. Describe how a patient’s perception of an illness’s can influence how it impacts the potential effectiveness of treatments?

C. Describe situations (other than those mentioned in the text) in which treatment compliance would be poor and what could be done in these instances to enhance compliance.

D. Describe, with examples, the types of delay that are frequently seen among patients who should be seeking medical help. If you were a health psychologist, what would you advise physicians who often encounter patients with these problems?

E. Why is it risky for physicians to make predictions regarding their patient’s prognosis? How might uncertainty regarding prognosis be beneficial to a patient?

F. If you were a patient with a serious illness, would you prefer a physician who was brilliant in the field, but had few social skills and treated patients indifferently, or a physician who was somewhat less brilliant, but connected well with patients and was empathetic to their individual needs?

G. Why would so many people being treated for severe illnesses fail to do what they have been instructed to do in order to get better? What can be done to enhance treatment compliance and is there a place for personalized approaches to deal with this problem?

H. It is widely accepted that within developed countries universal health care is a right (not a privilege), although disparities unfortunately exist regarding the availability of medications at no cost to patients. Are there overall advantages to having a ‘two-tiered’ system in which the rich and famous can opt out of usual health care so that they have their own doctors, diagnostics and treatments, allowing them to bypass the delays and other inconveniences that the rest of us experience? Think beyond the unfairness of a two-tiered system and instead focus on whether there are broader benefits for the rest of us.