Beliefs about heritability of cancer and health information seeking and preventive behaviors

J Cancer Educ. 2009;24(4):351-6. doi: 10.1080/08858190902876304.


Background: Individuals' beliefs about cancer heritability could affect their health information seeking and health behaviors.

Methods: Data from 5813 English-speaking adult respondents to the 2003 Health Information National Trends Survey were analyzed.

Results: Individuals who believed that knowledge of family history or genes can reduce cancer risk were significantly more likely to have ever looked for cancer information. Ever smokers who believed that genes are the main cause of lung cancer were significantly more likely to smoke currently.

Conclusions: Patients need to be educated about genetic susceptibility to cancer in ways that support information seeking and engagement in protective behaviors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Consumer Health Information*
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Information Services
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Young Adult