Publication Abstract

Authors: Dillard AJ, Ubel PA, Smith DM, Zikmund-Fisher BJ, Nair V, Derry HA, Zhang A, Pitsch RK, Alford SH, McClure JB, Fagerlin A

Title: The distinct role of comparative risk perceptions in a breast cancer prevention program.

Journal: Ann Behav Med 42(2):262-8

Date: 2011 Oct

Abstract: BACKGROUND: Comparative risk perceptions may rival other types of information in terms of effects on health behavior decisions. PURPOSE: We examined associations between comparative risk perceptions, affect, and behavior while controlling for absolute risk perceptions and actual risk. METHODS: Women at an increased risk of breast cancer participated in a program to learn about tamoxifen which can reduce the risk of breast cancer. They reported comparative risk perceptions of breast cancer and completed measures of anxiety, knowledge, and tamoxifen-related behavior intentions. Three months later, the women reported their behavior. RESULTS: Comparative risk perceptions were positively correlated with anxiety, knowledge, intentions, and behavior 3 months later. After controlling for participants' actual risk of breast cancer and absolute risk perceptions, comparative risk perceptions predicted anxiety and knowledge, but not intentions or behavior. CONCLUSIONS: Comparative risk perceptions can affect patient outcomes like anxiety and knowledge independently of absolute risk perceptions and actual risk information.