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Conceptual Foundations

Representational Approach: A Conceptual Framework to Guide Patient Education Research and Practice

Janet A. Arida
Paula R. Sherwood
Marie Flannery
Heidi S. Donovan
ONF 2016, 43(6), 781-783 DOI: 10.1188⁄16.ONF.781-783

Illness representations are cognitive structures that individuals rely on to understand and explain their illnesses and associated symptoms. The Representational Approach (RA) to patient education offers a theoretically based, clinically useful model that can support oncology nurses to develop a shared understanding of patients’ illness representations to collaboratively develop highly personalized plans for symptom management and other important self-management behaviors. This article discusses theoretical underpinnings, practical applications, challenges, and future directions for incorporating illness representations and the RA in clinical and research endeavors.

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