Denial of illness in medical rehabilitation populations: Theory, research, and definition

Kathleen B. Kortte, Stephen T. Wegener

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Objectives: (a) To trace the historical roots of denial of illness in order to understand how the construct of denial developed; (b) to review the literature based on proposed theses; and (c) to propose a taxonomy of the unawareness syndromes. Method: Review of the literature and theory and presentation of a new theoretical model. Results: Evidence from the literature demonstrated that (a) denial and anosognosia are two forms of unawareness syndromes; (b) denial is a multidimensional construct; (c) the use of denial can be both adaptive and maladaptive; and (d) denial interacts with time to have a differential impact on outcomes. Conclusion: A taxonomy is proposed that includes anosognosia (complete and partial) and denial of illness (complete and partial).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-199
Number of pages13
JournalRehabilitation Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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