The aims of the study were to: (1) Describe illness perception in individuals with subjective sleep complaints and high risk of sleep disordered breathing and compare the results with those of other studies. (2) Study the relationship between illness perception and sleep disordered breathing, insomnia, daytime sleepiness and fatigue. (3) Study the relationship between illness perception, anxiety and depression in individuals with subjective sleep complaints.
Methods: The study comprised 223 individuals classified as Berlin Questionnaire (BQ) high risk and who reported subjective sleep complaints. BQ assesses the patients risk of having sleep disordered breathing (SDB). These individuals were assessed with self report questionnaires, including the Illness Perception Questionnaire (IPQ-R), which assesses the individuals cognitive representations of their sleep complaints by asking about their own beliefs about their condition, and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale (HADS). All patients were also assessed with the structured clinical interview for DSM-IV (SCID) and monitored with polysomnography.
Results: Individuals with subjective sleep complaints scored higher on the beliefs about the number of symptoms attributed to their complaint, and the negative consequences of it. Individuals with fatigue had a more negative illness perception (IP) regarding number of symptoms than those without fatigue. Both daytime sleepiness and fatigue were associated with lover scores on illness coherence. We found no relationship between IP and SDB.
Anxiety and depression were significantly associated with identity and consequences, and the presence of current major depression was negatively associated with illness coherence.
Illness perceptions were associated with subjective aspects of sleep, but not with objective measures of SDB. Aspects of illness perceptions were associated with anxiety and depression. Focusing on changing these perceptions might play a role not only in relation to treatment of sleep symptoms, but also in relation to anxiety and depression.