Conceptions of illness by children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis: A cognitive developmental approach

Sharon L. Berry*, Jennifer R. Hayford, Caroline K. Ross, Lauren M. Pachman, John V. Lavigne

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

41 Scopus citations


Investigated the conceptions of illness and accuracy of understanding about their disease for children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA). 54 children between the ages of 6 and 17 were interviewed individually about various aspects of JRA, with results suggesting that accuracy and illness conceptions could be reliably measured. As predicted, children's understanding about their disease followed a developmental progression, with older children demonstrating a more sophisticated understanding of JRA than younger children (significant differences between age groups on 3 of the 5 questions). Multiple regression analysis indicated that conceptual level (p < .001) was a better predictor of the child's accuracy of knowledge than was age (ns). Despite the developmental progression, there were a significant number of children functioning below the level expected for their age. In fact, the majority (75%) of children exhibited an understanding of JRA at the concrete operational level of cognitive development. The within-subject variability and striking misconceptions argue for ongoing evaluation of each child's understanding as a way to improve educational efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-97
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of pediatric psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 1993


  • Cognitive development
  • Conceptions of illness
  • JRA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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