Why worry? Worry, risk perceptions, and willingness to act to reduce medical errors

Health Psychol. 2006 Mar;25(2):144-52. doi: 10.1037/0278-6133.25.2.144.


Through the domain of medical errors, the role of worry and perceived risk in precautionary behaviors was examined in a convenience sample (N = 195, mean age = 42 years, 71% female). Worry was linked to fatality estimates. A model of the antecedents and consequences of worry also was tested. Risk characteristics such as dread and preventability, negative reactivity, and vulnerability to medical errors appeared to motivate worry about medical errors. Worry about medical errors was a better predictor of intentions to take precautionary actions than were risk perceptions. An understanding of how worry influences preventive efforts will help in building communication strategies to the public and in effectively engaging patients in the role of vigilant partner in care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Errors / prevention & control*
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Oregon
  • Risk Assessment
  • Stress, Psychological*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires