Background: Information avoidance is a defensive strategy that undermines receipt of potentially beneficial but threatening health information and may especially occur when threat management resources are unavailable.
Purpose: We examined whether individual differences in information avoidance predicted intentions to receive genetic sequencing results for preventable and unpreventable (i.e., more threatening) disease and, secondarily, whether threat management resources of self-affirmation or optimism mitigated any effects.
Methods: Participants (N = 493) in an NIH study (ClinSeq®) piloting the use of genome sequencing reported intentions to receive (optional) sequencing results and completed individual difference measures of information avoidance, self-affirmation, and optimism.
Results: Information avoidance tendencies corresponded with lower intentions to learn results, particularly for unpreventable diseases. The association was weaker among individuals higher in self-affirmation or optimism, but only for results regarding preventable diseases.
Conclusions: Information avoidance tendencies may influence decisions to receive threatening health information; threat management resources hold promise for mitigating this association.