Meta-analysis of the Relationship Between Risk Perception and Health Behavior: The Example of Vaccination

Health Psychol. 2007 Mar;26(2):136-45. doi: 10.1037/0278-6133.26.2.136.

Abstract

Background: Risk perceptions are central to many health behavior theories. However, the relationship between risk perceptions and behavior, muddied by instances of inappropriate assessment and analysis, often looks weak.

Method: A meta-analysis of eligible studies assessing the bivariate association between adult vaccination and perceived likelihood, susceptibility, or severity was conducted.

Results: Thirty-four studies met inclusion criteria (N = 15,988). Risk likelihood (pooled r = .26), susceptibility (pooled r = .24), and severity (pooled r = .16) significantly predicted vaccination behavior. The risk perception-behavior relationship was larger for studies that were prospective, had higher quality risk measures, or had unskewed risk or behavior measures.

Conclusions: The consistent relationships between risk perceptions and behavior, larger than suggested by prior meta-analyses, suggest that risk perceptions are rightly placed as core concepts in theories of health behavior.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health*
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Risk Assessment
  • United States