Funny as it may sound, this is true. Patients who eventually get well, show a similar illness behaviour, though individualised. Illness behaviours are ways symptoms are perceived, evaluated and acted upon by one who perceived or recognised the symptom, which could be pain, discomfort or other signs of organic malfunction.
Illness behaviour is usually determined by the type of illness, and not by the level of education or occupation. It is also subjective.
For every illness behaviour, there are 5 stages of illness behaviour;
STAGE OF SYMPTOM EXPERIENCE
This is the stage when a patient begins to feel, or notice symptoms, most times abnormal and disturbing in nature. The experience would vary depending on the individual threshold for endurance.
STAGE OF ASSUMPTION OF SICK ROLE
In this stage, a patient is unable to perform normal functions, like domestic chores of cooking, sweeping etc. Here, the sick individual is expected to relinquish responsibities to others. It has also been noted that this is where faith and science clash because the individual has to agree to being ill or sick but Faith or Religion holds that one is healed if only the believe. The Christian Faith is most culpable.
STAGE OF MEDICAL CARE CONTACT
The patient, after assuming the sick role as above, presents to a qualified individual to confirm the illness. In most cases, it is the doctor that is saddled with this task, depending on whether the patient presented to a Primary, Secondary, or Tertiary health facility. The patient presents to the centre so that it can be validated that he or she is sick.
STAGE OF DEPENDENT PATIENT ROLE
Once the Doctor agrees to the illness, by making a diagnosis, the patient is confined to a bed, as an in-patient or an out-patient. At this point, the patient is no more responsible for his illness because it has been confirmed by a qualified Doctor. Also, all the patients responsibilities should be delegated to others. It is expected that the sick/ill patient keep to certain obligations like, cooperation with the medical care being offered and demonstrating a general willingness to get well.
STAGE OF RECOVERY AND REHABILITATION
With a good cooperation from the patient and general willingness to get well, he should be on path to full recovery. Rehabilitation becomes important and necessary when there have been complications that require correction. This is the tertiary level of prevention.
Experience has shown and reports proven that a majority patient who exhibited the above stages of illness behaviour eventually get better. As earlier mentioned, the illness behaviour of patient A may be different from those of patient B, but they all show a similar pattern. Patients should therefore show that illness behaviour that would lead to a fast and steady recovery.