Perceptions of subjective memory complaint in older adults: The Illness Perception Questionnaire - Memory (IPQ-M)

Catherine S. Hurt, Alistair Burns, Richard G. Brown, Christine Barrowclough

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    Background: Subjective Memory Complaints (SMCs) are common among middle-aged and older adults and are often a source of distress and worry. However, rates of help-seeking are low. Investigating perceptions of SMCs may help us better to understand psychological reactions to SMCs and help-seeking behavior. The present study had two aims: (i) to investigate whether the dimensions drawn from the Common Sense Model of Illness Perception (Leventhal et al., 1984) provide a valid model of perceptions held by patients with SMCs; and (ii) to develop a questionnaire to measure these perceptions. Methods: Qualitative interviews to explore perceptions of SMCs were conducted with 32 participants recruited from a memory clinic and community groups. Information from these interviews was utilized to adapt the Illness Perception Questionnaire - Revised (IPQ-R) for use with patients with SMCs. Ninety-eight such patients then completed the adapted questionnaire along with measures of cognition, depression and subjective memory function. Results: The dimensions of illness perception measured by the IPQ-R were present in participant accounts of SMCs with the exception of Timeline Cyclical. The adapted measure (IPQ-M) showed good validity and reliability. Conclusions: The development of the IPQ-M provides opportunities for further investigation of illness perceptions and their relationship to psychological distress and help-seeking behavior in SMCs. Furthermore, investigation of these relationships may provide a basis from which to develop interventions to improve well-being and help-seeking in older adults with SMCs. Copyright © 2010 International Psychogeriatric Association.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)750-760
    Number of pages10
    JournalInternational Psychogeriatrics
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010


    • beliefs
    • older adults
    • perceptions
    • subjective memory complaints


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