The role played by psychological, social and cultural factors in health and illness related behaviors is no longer breaking news. Individual differences such as illness representation and irrational beliefs have been shown to contribute to variability in distress when confronted with stressful events or certain illnesses. However, the relationship among these characteristics is not well established. Moreover, there is considerable lack of research concerning the impact of specific irrational beliefs in mediating the relationship between general irrational beliefs and distress. The purpose of this study was to investigate the interrelations among illness representation, general and specific irrational beliefs and distress levels in type two diabetes and breast cancer patients. The illness representation of 56 patients (30 breast cancer patients and 26 diabetes patients) was evaluated with semi-structured interviews; subsequently, they completed the Beck Depression Inventory, State Trait Anxiety Inventory X1 and X2, Profile of Mood States, Attitudes and Beliefs Scale II and an adapted version of the ABS II for illness. Results revealed that specific illness-related irrational beliefs mediate the relationship between general irrational beliefs and emotional distress (p<0.05). Results also revealed no significant differences between levels of distress for different representations of illness.
KEYWORDS: illness representation, general and specific irrational beliefs, distress, diabetes and cancer patients.