International Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 230-239

First online:

The Association of Type 2 Diabetes Patient and Spouse Illness Representations with Their Well-being: A Dyadic Approach

  • Georgia DimitrakiAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Crete
  • , Evangelos C. KarademasAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Crete Email author 

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The aim of this study was to examine the relation between certain illness representations and the physical and psychological well-being of persons with type 2 diabetes mellitus and their spouses.


In this study, we examined the relation of type 2 diabetes patients and their spouses’ representations of illness consequences and timeline (chronicity and cyclicality/predictability) to the physical and psychological well-being of both. The interaction between patient and spouse illness representations was also studied.


A dyadic analysis approach was employed, while the Actor–Partner Interdependence Model was used to examine dyadic effects. One hundred and sixty-eight individuals nested in 84 couples participated.


Regarding illness representations, both actor (i.e., the effects of a person’s own characteristics on own outcomes) and partner (i.e., the effects of the partner’s characteristics on a person’s outcomes) effects were identified but only for patients’ well-being. Certain significant interactions were also found: patients’ timeline-cyclical representations were weakly associated with their anxiety and depression symptoms when spouses perceived diabetes as less unpredictable. Also, spouses’ perceptions of consequences were more strongly related to their anxiety when patients perceived diabetes as less burdensome.


Overall, the findings indicate a type of synergy between patient and spouse illness representations. They also emphasize the interdependence between diabetes patients and their partners, and the need to examine adaptation to illness within a dyadic-regulation framework as well.


Adaptation to chronic illness Diabetes mellitus type 2 Dyadic analysis Dyadic regulation Illness representations