Reported two studies investigating the relationship between the extent of children's experience with illness and their level of understanding about the causes of illness. Both studies compared children with experience of a major chronic illness (cystic fibrosis in Study I and cancer in Study 2) with children whose illness experience was relatively minor and acute. The age range of the children in Study 1 was 4,6 to 10.6 years; in Study 2 it was 7 to 14 years. The measure of understanding of illness was the Bibace and Walsh (1980, 1981) Piagetian-based test. To determine the specificity of illness experience effects, performance on this test was considered against a second measure of cognitive functioning: conservation of amount and volume in Study 1; the Peabody Picture Vocabulary test-Revised in Study 2. Results point to both age and experience as contributing to children's understanding of illness. Methodological issues and implications for future research are discussed.
- cognitive development
- illness experience