This article examines the psychological and physical impact of denial of illness related to heart disease. The most obvious sequelae entail avoidance of help-seeking behaviour and the maintenance of risk-taking behaviour such as poor diet, lack of exercise and smoking. A definition of denial is presented, followed by a description of the perceived benefits and risks of this strategy. That is, denial can be viewed as an adaptive response, and as such has a place in the human array of stress responses. The purpose of this is to show that any change in behaviour needs to be considered in relation to the losses incurred by curtailing that behaviour. The reason it is important to understand these individual perceptions is that in order to move into constructive dialogue the nurse has to recognize the function and value of denial to the individual concerned. Techniques are discussed using a case study method.
Snowden, A., Marland, G., Murray, E., & McCaig, M. (2012). Denial of heart disease, delays seeking help and lifestyle changes. British Journal of Cardiac Nursing, 7, 124-128. https://doi.org/10.12968/bjca.2012.7.3.124