Purpose: Differences in illness perception about hand injury may partly explain the variation in health behaviours such as adherence to post-operative therapy, coping strategy, emotional response and eventual clinical outcome. This study examined the illness perception of patients with hand injuries in the acute trauma setting.Methods: The disability and severity of injury were assessed using the Disability of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (DASH) questionnaire and the Hand Injury Severity Score (HISS). The revised Illness Perception Questionnaire (IPQ-R) was used to explore patients' illness beliefs and perception on hand injury.Results: Fifty seven patients were recruited over the 2 month period. The IPQ-R showed good internal reliability (Cronbach's alpha, 0.68-0.86). There was no correlation between the DASH or HISS scores and the various components of the IPQ-R scores, suggesting that illness perceptions were not influenced by the recent trauma experience. Patients with dominant hand injuries and females reported significantly higher subjective disability. Younger patients believed their injury would last for a limited duration but reported a significantly higher number of related symptoms. Overall, the cohort was optimistic about their treatment and duration of recovery (high treatment control score and tow time line score). Beliefs of negative consequences, chronic/cyclical duration and tow illness coherence were linked with negative emotional, response. High illness identity was associated with perception of pessimistic outcome (high consequences score) and negative emotional response.Conclusions: The lack of correlations suggests that illness perceptions of patients do not necessarily relate to the recent trauma experience or the severity of their hand injury. Patients in this cohort were optimistic about treatment and their recovery. There was some evidence to suggest that patients with severe injury were over-optimistic about recovery. These findings suggest that there could be a rote for psychological intervention in hand injury. (C) 2008 British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.