Presentation T P40

T P40 (Poster Presentation):
Illness threats and emotions in return to work following cardiovascular disease

Presented by: Fergal O'Hagan


O'Hagan F1

  1. Department of Psychology, Trent University



Work disability and poor occupational adjustment are common among cardiac patients. Twenty percent of acute myocardial infarction patients do not return to work. Many of those who do experience ongoing problems and some have to leave work again. Work disability among this group is multifactorial, jointly determined by disease and psychosocial factors. Leventhal’s common-sense model posits that cognitive (threat) and emotional representations exist within a self-regulatory system of representation, response and appraisal that jointly determine outcome. Threat representations have been linked to poor work outcome. Emotional illness representations have received less attention and the relationship between these two dimensions is rarely examined. Our purpose: 1. To examine relationships between cognitive and emotional representations of cardiac illness with work status and self-declared work adjustment. 2. Explore possible mediating influences of threat and emotional representation between illness identify and work outcomes.


Multiple cross-sectional design with questionnaire data collected from cardiac rehabilitation (CR) patients (72% working; age 57 ± 10.7 y; 82% male, 73% married or equivalent, median duration of illness 31 weeks, 53% coronary artery bypass grafting, 57% myocardial infarction, 37% experiencing angina) at program entry (N=126) and 6 to 12 months (N=88) of CR participation. Participants completed the Illness Perceptions Questionnaire-Revised and reported on work status and individual perception of work adjustment (WA). Mediation models were used to test for relationships between Illness Perception Questionnaire factor scores and return to work response variables.


Being at work and higher perceived WA were associated with fewer illness-related symptoms, lower emotional involvement, greater personal control over cardiac illness and experiencing lower consequences as a result of cardiac illness. Treatment control beliefs, illness timeline and personal understanding of illness were not related to work outcomes. In mediation models, emotional involvement partially mediated the relationship between illness identify and work adjustment while personal control beliefs did not. Neither personal control or emotional representation influenced the other’s relationship with WA.


In this sample, the negative association of physical disease impact on work disability indicators was partially bridged by emotions (anger, worry, fear) about the illness while personal control beliefs did not. Implications for work disability interventions and research are discussed.

Schedule Details

Tuesday September 30
12:45 - 13:45 Poster Viewing
Session: Work capacity / ability