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Psychosocial Factors Associated With Risk Perceptions for Chronic Diseases in Younger and Middle-Aged Women

, : Psychosocial Factors Associated With Risk Perceptions for Chronic Diseases in Younger and Middle-Aged Women. Women & Health 55(8): 921-942

Perceptions of disease risk play an important role in motivating people to adopt healthy behaviors. However, little is known about psychosocial factors that influence women's perceived risk for developing disease. The present study investigated the extent to which individual traits, social influences, objective risk factors, and demographic characteristics were associated with women's risk perceptions for cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, and lung cancer. Using structural equation modeling, we examined hypothesized associations among 452 younger (ages 18-25 years) and 167 middle-aged (ages 40-64 years) women. A greater number and variety of factors were associated with middle-aged women's risk perceptions compared to younger women. For both groups, some objective risk factors were associated with risk perceptions; yet, associations also existed between multiple psychosocial variables (optimism, health locus of control, social exposure to disease, perceived stigma) and risk perceptions. Results suggested that women may base their risk estimates on factors beyond those considered important by healthcare providers.


PMID: 26110993

DOI: 10.1080/03630242.2015.1061094

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