What Is Health Perception?

Mary McMahon

Health perception is a patient’s assessment of his or her own personal health. This may differ from an assessment by a care provider, which can present problems in the treatment of health conditions. Patient outcomes tend to improve when patients are well-informed about their health and feel empowered to make decisions, and when care providers and patients have similar perceptions of the patient’s condition. A number of tools can be used to find out more about a patient’s health perception.

If a patient's health perception is lower than that of a doctor, it could indicate the patient is depressed or frustrated.
If a patient's health perception is lower than that of a doctor, it could indicate the patient is depressed or frustrated.

Intake interviews in medical offices often include some questions about health perception. Patients may be asked about how they feel, generally, and if they have any specific health concerns. If a patient expresses concerns about a mediocre level of health, the doctor can ask more questions to find out why the patient feels that way. Other questions can ascertain whether the patient lives a healthy lifestyle, and understands how issues like activity levels and diet can impact health.

Some chronic illnesses onset slowly and subtly.
Some chronic illnesses onset slowly and subtly.

When a patient’s health perception is much lower than that of a doctor, this may be an indicator that the patient is depressed or frustrated. In a patient with chronic pain, for example, the doctor might consider the condition under control. The patient may feel like the pain is relentless and intolerable, indicating that the level of control is not satisfactory. By working together, the patient and care provider can determine what the problem is and how to address it.

A person's health perception can motivate them to meet weight loss goals.
A person's health perception can motivate them to meet weight loss goals.

Conversely, patients may report that they are very healthy when evidence suggests they are not. This may result from a variety of factors. Patients may be in a state of denial about health issues, or so accustomed to them that they don’t feel like a problem. Some chronic illnesses onset slowly and subtly, and patients may feel any worse than usual when clinical signs become evident to a doctor. Patients may report feeling “great,” for example, when they are at very high risk of heart attack.

Intake interviews may be used to gauge a patient's perception of her health.
Intake interviews may be used to gauge a patient's perception of her health.

Realigning health perception may require a consultation with the patient and testing to find out more about the patient’s general level of health. Once the doctor and the patient have a more thorough understanding of the perspective on the other side of the exam table, they may find it easier to work together. For example, a patient who understands the serious cardiovascular risks of high blood pressure might be more committed to treatment in spite of an originally positive health perception.

Health perception is based on the patient's perception of their health state.
Health perception is based on the patient's perception of their health state.
A person's health perception can impact their physical routines.
A person's health perception can impact their physical routines.
Reevaluating personal health perceptions can serve as a catalyst for eating healthier.
Reevaluating personal health perceptions can serve as a catalyst for eating healthier.

You might also Like

Discussion Comments

Animandel

Drentel - You are not alone in your perception of yourself as younger than you are. Many people, especially men in my experience, have a difficult time grasping the physical limitations that attrition played out over many years can have on the body.

This is why you should have regular medical exams and physicals. A second opinion, especially a medical one, should give you a more realistic idea of where you are in terms of your health.

Drentel

I still see myself as a 17 year-old kid rather than as a middle-aged man. I am momentarily confused when my body refuses to respond as it once did. I still expect to be able to work and then play sports for hours after.

I also forget that there are health precautions and tests I need to take as I age. I perceive myself as being in great health and this is why I don't get regular checkups and routine test that a person my age should get. This positive perception of my health can actually have negative consequences.

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register: