Avoiding risk information about breast cancer

Ann Behav Med. 2012 Oct;44(2):216-24. doi: 10.1007/s12160-012-9382-5.


Background: Learning about personal risk can provide numerous benefits yet people sometimes opt to remain ignorant.

Purpose: Two studies examined the role of perceived control, coping resources, and anticipated regret in women's decision to avoid breast cancer risk information.

Methods: Women completed a health inventory and then read a brochure about either controllable or uncontrollable predictors of breast cancer, or received no brochure. Participants then received an opportunity to learn their lifetime risk for breast cancer based on their inventory responses.

Results: Reading about controllable predictors of breast cancer reduced avoidance of risk information compared with reading about uncontrollable predictors or receiving no information. In addition, fewer coping resources, anticipated greater regret over seeking breast cancer risk information, and less regret over avoiding breast cancer risk information predicted information avoidance.

Conclusion: Reading about controllable predictors of breast cancer reduces avoidance of breast cancer risk information.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Denial, Psychological
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Pamphlets
  • Risk
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Women / psychology*