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After reading this chapter, you will be able to:

  1. Explain the concept of illness representation.

  2. Describe some of the most-common psychological effects of becoming a patient in a medical system.

  3. Discuss some of the responses athletes may have to a serious injury and the factors that commonly affect this response.

  4. Understand the complex nature of pain syndromes and explain why people with pain syndromes benefit from appropriate physical activity.

  5. List the typical emotions people experience during the process of grieving.

  6. Describe the importance of self-management for chronic health problems.

  7. Explain several models that illustrate how people adjust psychologically to chronic health problems.

  8. Discuss helpful strategies for promoting psychological adjustment to chronic health problems.


image Mason and Grant are classmates in an undergraduate kinesiology program. They are both enrolled as interns in the same medical fitness facility for the school year. Clients at the facility generally began as rehabilitation patients following hospitalization for an illness or injury. Mason and Grant both help supervise the exercise programs of clients who have progressed enough to move from physical therapy to more of a personal training environment. Mason and Grant are looking forward to gaining experience with a wide variety of medical issues. Although Mason and Grant have had experience working in the university fitness center with beginning exercisers, neither has worked extensively with patients recently released from the hospital or rehabilitation center, and both are a little nervous about working with people who have fairly low levels of fitness and serious health problems. When Mason mentions his concerns, Grant reassures him. "We'll have instructions from the doctors and physical therapists to follow. And, basically, this is like basic exercise program design. You see what patients can do and ask them to do a little more."image

Health behaviors play important roles in both the development and treatment of injury and illness. Encouraging people to improve health behaviors to prevent or delay chronic illness forms the heart of the primary prevention efforts of many public-health programs. In addition, people diagnosed with injury or illness are often directed by medical professionals to alter health behaviors to speed recovery or to reduce injury or illness severity. The experiences of injury and illness occur in every life, and they strongly affect motivation and behavior. The topics of injury and illness have been woven into discussions throughout this book in a variety of contexts. This chapter explores these topics in more depth to help illuminate the experiences of coping with injury and illness and how these experiences influence the behavior-change process. The goal of this chapter is to broaden the health and fitness professional's understanding of how people perceive and respond to health challenges (Box 12-1).

Box 12-1. Work in the Clinical Setting

Many health and fitness professionals work with patients in the clinical setting. Professionals may work ...

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