Publication Abstract

Authors: Dillard AJ, Scherer L, Ubel PA, Smith DM, Zikmund-Fisher BJ, McClure JB, Greene S, Stark A, Fagerlin A

Title: Breast cancer anxiety's associations with responses to a chemoprevention decision aid.

Journal: Soc Sci Med 77:13-9

Date: 2013 Jan

Abstract: Few studies have examined how specific emotions may affect decision-making processes. Anxiety may be especially relevant in health decisions such as those related to cancer in which thoughts of illness or death may be abundant. We examined associations between women's anxiety about developing breast cancer and variables related to their decision to take a medication that could reduce their chances of the disease. Six-hundred and thirty-two American women, who had an increased risk of breast cancer, reviewed a web-based decision aid about tamoxifen. We examined associations between their baseline, self-reported anxiety about developing the disease and post decision aid measures including knowledge about tamoxifen, attitude toward the medication, and behavioral intentions to look for more information and take the medication. Results showed that anxiety was not associated with knowledge about tamoxifen, but it was associated with attitude toward the medication such that women who were more anxious about developing breast cancer were more likely to think the benefits were worth the risks. Greater anxiety was also associated with greater behavioral intentions to look for additional information and take the medication in the next few months. Secondary analyses showed that behavioral intentions were related to knowledge of tamoxifen and attitude toward the medication only for women who were reporting low levels of anxiety. Overall, the findings suggest that anxiety about breast cancer may motivate interest in tamoxifen and not necessarily through affecting knowledge or attitudes.