BACKGROUND: According to cognitive behavioural theory, cognitive factors (i.e. underlying general dysfunctional beliefs and (situation) specific illness beliefs) are theorized to lead to outcomes like anxiety and depression. In clinical practice, general dysfunctional beliefs are generally not tackled directly in short-term-therapy.
AIMS: The goal of the present study was to investigate the associations of general versus specific illness beliefs on anxiety and depressive symptoms and psychiatric disorders among a subgroup of patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) with poor mental quality of life (QoL).
METHOD: This study concerns cross-sectional data, collected at baseline from a randomized clinical trial. One hundred and eighteen patients, recruited at four Dutch hospitals, with poor QoL (score ≤23 on the mental health subscale of the Short-Form 36-item Health-Survey; SF-36) were included. General dysfunctional beliefs were measured by the Dysfunctional Attitude Scale (DAS), specific illness beliefs by the Illness Perceptions Questionnaire-Revised (IPQ-R), anxiety and depressive symptoms by the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), and psychiatric disorders by the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis-I Disorders (SCID-I).
RESULTS: Univariate analyses showed associations between the level of anxiety and/or depression and general dysfunctional beliefs and four specific illness beliefs (consequences, personal control, emotional representations and treatment control). Among patients with IBD with psychiatric disorders, only the DAS was significantly associated with anxiety and depression (DAS added to IPQ-R and IPQ-R added to DAS).
CONCLUSIONS: Psychological interventions may have to target general dysfunctional beliefs of patients with IBD with co-morbid psychiatric disorders to be effective. These patients with IBD are especially in need of psychological treatment.