Exposure to asbestos: psychological responses of mesothelioma patients

Am J Ind Med. 1983;4(3):459-66. doi: 10.1002/ajim.4700040306.


Thirty-eight patients with a diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma participated in a semi-structured interview to evaluate asbestos exposure, acquisition of increased risk information, and retrospective reporting of cognitive and behavioral reactions (particularly smoking behavior) to risk information. Twenty-eight patients (74%) had direct occupational contact with asbestos, and six patients (16%) reported indirect nonoccupational exposure to asbestos. Only two (10%) of the directly exposed patients acquired risk information from professional sources prior to diagnosis of mesothelioma. The most frequently reported reaction to learning of increased risk of cancer was a denial of the risk by minimizing personal exposure. Few patients reported being concerned about the information of increased risk. Smoking behavior did not change as a result of risk information, nor was there any increase in visits to physicians. Guidelines for psychosocial management of at-risk groups are recommended.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Asbestos*
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mesothelioma / etiology*
  • Mesothelioma / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk
  • Smoking*


  • Asbestos