Narratives that address affective forecasting errors reduce perceived barriers to colorectal cancer screening

Soc Sci Med. 2010 Jul;71(1):45-52. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2010.02.038. Epub 2010 Mar 21.


Narratives from similar others may be an effective way to increase important health behaviors. In this study, we used a narrative intervention to promote colorectal cancer screening. Researchers have suggested that people may overestimate barriers to colorectal cancer screening. We recruited participants from the US, ages 49-60 who had never previously been screened for colorectal cancer, to read an educational message about screening for the disease. One-half of participants were randomly assigned to also receive a narrative within the message (control participants did not receive a narrative). The narrative intervention was developed according to predictions of affective forecasting theory. Compared to participants who received only the educational message, participants who received the message along with a narrative reported that the barriers to screening would have less of an impact on a future screening experience. The narrative also increased risk perception for colorectal cancer and interest in screening in the next year.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Affect
  • Colonoscopy / methods
  • Colonoscopy / psychology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Early Detection of Cancer / psychology*
  • Early Detection of Cancer / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Narration*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Risk Assessment
  • Surveys and Questionnaires