Relationships among breast cancer perceived absolute risk, comparative risk, and worries.
When trying to predict breast cancer screening, it may be important to understand the relationships between perceived breast cancer risks and worries about getting breast cancer. This study examines the extent to which women's worries about breast cancer correlate with perceptions of both absolute (assessment of own) and comparative (self versus other) 10-year and lifetime risks. As part of a larger randomized intervention trial concerning hormone replacement therapy, 581 women participated in a telephone baseline survey to assess their perceptions of breast cancer risks and worries. Worries about getting breast cancer in the next 10 years and in one's lifetime were related positively to both absolute and comparative 10-year and lifetime risks. The magnitude of these relationships did not differ by time frame. Worry about breast cancer is a function of both how a woman views her own risk and how she compares her risk with that of other women. Some practitioners may encourage women to get screened for breast cancer by using emotional appeals, such as heightening women's worries about breast cancer by using risk information. Our data suggest that they should give careful consideration how best to combine, if at all, information about absolute and comparative risks. For example, if the motivation to screen is based on a sequential assessment of risk beginning with comparative and then absolute risk, creating communications that heighten perceived risk on both of these risk dimensions may be needed to evoke sufficient worry to initiate breast cancer screening.
Lipkus, IM; Kuchibhatla, M; McBride, CM; Bosworth, HB; Pollak, KI; Siegler, IC; Rimer, BK
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