Cystic fibrosis disclosure may minimize risk of negative peer evaluations


Background: Given the relatively lower body weight associated with cystic fibrosis (CF) and the visible regimen associated with eating, there is a risk that individuals with CF may be mistakenly perceived to have an eating disorder or otherwise be negatively evaluated. Based upon a theoretical model, this study explored whether disclosing CF would curtail negative peer perceptions. Methods: Young adult respondents (N = 391) read vignettes that varied in a 2 (male vs. female character) × 2 (preventative disclosure of disorder vs. nondisclosure) design and answered 28 questions, which resulted in three subscales that were validated using confirmatory factor analysis: Abnormal Behavior, Hiding an Eating Disorder, and Worry. Vignettes depicted a lunchtime interaction including concerns about gaining weight and taking enzymes before eating. Results: Disclosure of CF significantly reduced perceptions of abnormal behavior, ameliorated perceptions of an eating disorder, and alleviated respondents' worries. Manipulations of vignette character gender did not result in any significant differences; however, female respondents reported significantly more worry for the character than males. Conclusions: Individuals who disclose their CF may potentially curtail negative peer perceptions. Those who choose not to disclose may risk having their thinness and appropriate self-care misperceived as signs of an eating disorder. © 2005 European Cystic Fibrosis Society. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Publication Title

Journal of Cystic Fibrosis