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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

A comparison of the illness beliefs of people with angina and their peers: a questionnaire study

Gill Furze1*, Alun Roebuck1, Peter Bull2, Robert JP Lewin1 and David R Thompson1

Author Affiliations

1 British Heart Foundation Rehabilitation Research Unit, Department of Health Sciences, University of York, Heslington, York, UK

2 Department of Psychology, University of York, Heslington, York, UK

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BMC Cardiovascular Disorders 2002, 2:4  doi:10.1186/1471-2261-2-4

Published: 20 February 2002



What people believe about their illness may affect how they cope with it. It has been suggested that such beliefs stem from those commonly held within society . This study compared the beliefs held by people with angina, regarding causation and coping in angina, with the beliefs of their friends who do not suffer from angina.


Postal survey using the York Angina Beliefs Questionnaire (version 1), which elicits stress attributions and misconceived beliefs about causation and coping. This was administered to 164 people with angina and their non-cohabiting friends matched for age and sex. 132 people with angina and 94 friends completed the questionnaire.


Peers are more likely than people with angina to believe that angina is caused by a worn out heart (p < 0.01), angina is a small heart attack (p = 0.02), and that it causes permanent damage to the heart (p < 0.001). Peers were also more likely to believe that people with angina should take life easy (p < 0.01) and avoid exercise (p = 0.04) and excitement (p < 0.01).


The beliefs of the peer group about causation and coping in angina run counter to professional advice. Over time this may contribute to a reduction in patient concordance with risk factor reduction, and may help to create cardiac invalids.