Perceived control over the medical procedure and its association with adjustment to a low-control situation: The case of infertility

Yael Benyamini, Hani Nouman, Yasmin Alkalay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Illness perceptions were shown to be related to emotional and physical outcomes, as proposed by Leventhals self-regulation model. These perceptions include the illness identity, its timeline, consequences, causes, and controllability, which later research found to include self-control and treatment control. The current study aimed to examine the role of a third type of perceived control: Control over the treatment procedures. We hypothesized that this type of control would be important for women undergoing infertility treatments, which are characterized by high uncertainty and low personal control. The sample included 194 Israeli women who were undergoing infertility treatments, 70% recruited in hospitals and the remainder in a fertility counseling center and website. All participants were married religious Jewish women, which added to the stress inherent in infertility. Study measures included the Illness Perception Questionnaire-Revised (IPQ-R), adapted to infertility, with an additional subscale assessing control over the procedure, and infertility-specific distress and well-being scales. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses supported the factor structure, including the distinct new subscale. A structural equations model showed that perceived consequences were most strongly related to distress and well-being. The three types of control were positively intercorrelated but differed in their associations with distress and well-being: Self-control over the problem and treatment control were unrelated to either measure while self-control over the procedure was related to greater well-being. These findings suggest that when control over the condition or the treatment outcomes is impossible, individuals may still benefit from control over external factors such as their health care. Healthcare providers can support them by seeking ways to increase their control over their treatment procedures, which may contribute to better psychological adjustment. Future studies should examine the role of perceived control over the procedures in other low-control situations (e.g., newly diagnosed cancer; aging-related declines).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)476-482
Number of pages7
JournalPsychology, Health and Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 18 May 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Study participants, hospital management, and staff members at Levy Mwanawasa Teaching Hospital, University Teaching Hospital, Kabwe General Hospital, Ndola Teaching Hospital, and Livingstone General Hospital.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Taylor & Francis.


  • Perceived control
  • illness perceptions
  • illness representations
  • in vitro-fertilization
  • infertility
  • selfregulation model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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