Worry as a moderator of the association between risk perceptions and quitting intentions in young adult and adult smokers

Ann Behav Med. 2009 Dec;38(3):256-61. doi: 10.1007/s12160-009-9143-2.


Background: Although much work addresses the association between risk perceptions and behavior, much less attention has been devoted to identifying psychosocial and sociodemographic moderators of this relationship.

Purpose: We explored whether worry moderates the relationship between risk perceptions and behavioral intentions in an adult sample (where the relationship is typically positive) and a young adult sample (where we have found that the relationship can be negative).

Method: Two samples of smokers (adults and college students) were asked to report worry, risk perceptions, and quitting intentions as part of two cessation interventions.

Results: Among low-worry individuals, the risk perception/intentions relationship was positive in the adult sample and negative in the young adult sample. However, among high-worry individuals, the relationship was negative in the adult sample (and nonsignificant in the young adult sample).

Conclusions: These findings suggest that worry can moderate the extent to which risk perceptions motivate risk-related intentions and that the nature of such moderation may depend on other factors such as age.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Attitude to Health
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intention*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Perception
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Sampling Studies
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Smoking Cessation / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Universities