Informing women about their breast cancer risks: truth and consequences.
We assessed the extent to which informing women about their risk for breast cancer affected their perceived 10-year and lifetime risks for getting breast cancer, their emotional reactions toward getting breast cancer, and their intentions to get mammograms. In a pre- to posttest design, 121 women were given their 10-year risk of getting breast cancer with or without being compared with women their age and race at lowest risk. Women's perceptions of their 10-year risks became more congruent (i.e., more accurate) with their actual risk. Participants were more accurate when they received their own risk without being compared with women at lowest risk. Women who received only their own risk estimate reported being at lower risk than other women. Overall, women reported that obtaining their 10-year risk estimate either did not affect or increased their intentions to get mammograms. These results suggest that giving women their individual risk of getting breast cancer improves accuracy while also enhancing their feelings that they are at lower risk than other women. Counter to many theories of health behavior, reducing women's perceived risk of breast cancer did not lower their intentions to get mammograms. Implications for the communication of breast cancer risk are discussed.
Lipkus, IM; Biradavolu, M; Fenn, K; Keller, P; Rimer, BK
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