Emmachiao’s Blog

February 8, 2009

suchman’s 5 stages of illness

Filed under: Uncategorized — emmachiao @ 10:22 am
Suchman’s 5 Stages of Illness (Suchman, 1979)
• Stage 1: Symptom experiences – Cognitive aspect (believe something is wrong)
– Physical experience of symptoms – Emotional response (may consult others and
try home remedies) Stage 2: Assumption of the sick role – Accepts the sick role
and seeks confirmation from family and friends – Continue with treatment –
Excused from normal duties and expectations – Emotional responses common –
 Seek professional health advice Stage 3: Medical care contact –
Seeks advice of a health professional to: • Validate real illness •
Explain illness in understandable terms • Get reassurance (may accept or
 deny diagnosis) Stage 4: Dependent client role – Becomes dependent on
the professional for help Stage 5: Recovery or rehabilitation – Relinquish
 the dependent role – Resume former roles and responsibilities – long term
responsibilities and permanent disability necessitate adjustment



Impact of Illness
On the Client • Behavioral and emotional changes •
 Loss of autonomy (autonomy is the state of being independent
and self-directed without outside control) • Self-concept and body
 image changes • Lifestyle changes (lifestyle is a general way of living
based on the interplay between living condition in the wide sense and
 individual pattern of behaviour as determined by socio-cultural factors
and personal characteristic) • Privacy is usually affected (privacy is
 described as comfortable feeling reflecting a deserved degree of social
 retreat or freedom from authorized intrusion)

On the Family • Depends on: –
 Member of the family who is ill – Seriousness and length of the illness –
 Cultural and social customs the family follows – Impact of Illness:
Family Changes • Role changes • Task reassignments • Increased demands on
 time • Anxiety about outcomes • Conflict about unaccustomed responsibilities
• Financial problems • Loneliness as a result of separation and pending loss
 • Change in social customs Nursing interventions:
1. explanations about adjustments 2. arrangements to accommodate lifestyle
3. encourage health professionals to become aware of changes and give support
 4. reinforce desirable changes in practice

“abnormal vital function involving any structure, part, or system of an organism”
 “specific illness or disorder characterized by a recognizable set of
 manifestations, attributable to heredity, infection, diet, or environment” • •
 Alteration in body function A reduction of capacities or a shortening of
 the normal life span

• State of well-being –
 Subjective perception of vitality and feeling well –
Described objectively, experienced, measured – Can be plotted on a
 continuum Basic aspects include: – Self-responsibility – An ultimate goal
– A dynamic, growing process – Daily decision-making in areas related to health
– Whole being of the individual


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