Leventhal’s model of self-regulation is based on the idea that each person forms a cognitive representation of their illness, which allows them to make sense of their symptoms.

This illness perception and the patient’s emotional response then guide behaviour towards managing the illness (Leventhal et al., 1984).

An illness perception is made up of five major components.

  • illness identity
  • potential cause
  • timeline
  • consequences
  • how it may be controlled

Often patients with similar diseases can hold very different perceptions of their illness (Petrie and Weinman, 2012).