Study of Relationship Between Illness Perception and Delay in Seeking Help for Breast Cancer Patients Based on Leventhal’s Self-Regulation Model


Master of Midwifery, Department of Reproductive Health and Midwifery, Guilan University of Medical Sciences, Rasht, Iran E-mail:


One of the major causes of morbidity and mortality in breast cancer patients is delay in seeking help. Leventhal’s self-regulation model provides an appropriate framework to assess delay in seeking help. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between “illness perception” and “help seeking delay” in breast cancer patients based on Leventhal’s self-regulation model. In this correlational descriptive study with convenience sampling conducted in 2013, participants were 120 women with breast cancer who were diagnosed in the last year and referred to chemotherapy and radiotherapy centers in Rasht, Iran. Data collection scales included demographic data, Revised Illness Perception Questionnaire (IPQ-R)and a researcher made questionnaire to measure the delay in seeking help. Pre-hospital delay (help seeking delay) was evaluated in 3 phases (assessment, disease, behavior). The data were analyzed using SPSS-19. The mean (SD) age calculated for the patients was 47.3±10.2. Some 43% of the patients had a high school or higher education level and 82% were married. The “pre-hospital delay” was reported ≥3 months. Logistic regression analysis showed that none of the illness perception components were correlated with appraisal and behavioral delay phases. In the illness delay phase, “time line” (p-value =0.04) and “risk factors”(p-value=0.03) had significant effects on reducing and “psychological attributions” had significant effects on increasing the delay (p-value =0.01). “Illness coherence” was correlated with decreased pre-hospital patient delay (p-value<0.01). Women’s perceptions of breast cancer influences delay in seeking help. In addition to verifying the validity of Leventhal’s self-regulation model in explaining delay in seeking help, the results signify the importance of the “illness delay phase” (decision to seek help) and educational interventions-counseling for women in the community.