Denial of heart disease, delays seeking help and lifestyle changes

Austyn Snowden, Glenn Marland, Esther Murray, Marie McCaig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)124-128
Number of pages5
JournalBritish Journal of Cardiac Nursing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Denial Heart disease
  • Cognitive Psychoanalysis
  • Stages of grief
  • Delay seeking treatment


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