Perceived susceptibility to breast cancer moderates the effect of gain- and loss-framed messages on use of screening mammography

Health Psychol. 2011 Mar;30(2):145-52. doi: 10.1037/a0022264.


Objective: This study examined the role of three distinct beliefs about risk (risks associated with screening, construal of the function of screening as health-affirming or illness-detecting, and perceived susceptibility to breast cancer) in moderating women's responses to framed messages that promote mammography.

Design: Three hundred fifty-five women recruited from an inner city hospital, nonadherent to guidelines for receiving annual screening mammograms,were randomly assigned to view a gain- or loss-framed video message about the importance of mammography.

Main outcome measure: Mammography screening was self-reported at a 3-month follow-up.

Results: Only perceived susceptibility to breast cancer significantly moderated the effect of message framing on screening. Women with average and higher levels of perceived susceptibility for breast cancer were significantly more likely to report screening after viewing a loss-framed message compared to a gain-framed message. No effects of framing on reported screening were observed for women with lower levels of perceived susceptibility.

Conclusion: The study identifies a key role for perceived susceptibility in shaping responses to framed messages that promote cancer screenings.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude to Health* / ethnology
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / psychology
  • Humans
  • Mammography / statistics & numerical data*
  • Mass Screening / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Midwestern United States
  • Persuasive Communication*
  • Risk
  • Surveys and Questionnaires