Using an Internet-Based Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool to Improve Social-Cognitive Precursors of Physical Activity

Stephanie L. Fowler, William M.P. Klein, Linda Ball, Jaclyn McGuire, Graham A. Colditz, Erika A. Waters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background. Internet-based cancer risk assessment tools might serve as a strategy for translating epidemiological risk prediction research into public health practice. Understanding how such tools affect key social-cognitive precursors of behavior change is crucial for leveraging their potential into effective interventions. Purpose. To test the effects of a publicly available, Internet-based, breast cancer risk assessment tool on social-cognitive precursors of physical activity. Methods. Women (N = 132) aged 40-78 with no personal cancer history indicated their perceived risk of breast cancer and were randomly assigned to receive personalized ( or nonpersonalized breast cancer risk information. Immediately thereafter, breast cancer risk perceptions and physical activity-related behavioral intentions, self-efficacy, and response efficacy were assessed. Results. Personalized information elicited higher intentions, self-efficacy, and response efficacy than nonpersonalized information, P values < 0.05. Self-efficacy and response efficacy mediated the effect of personalizing information on intentions. Women who received personalized information corrected their inaccurate risk perceptions to some extent, P values < 0.05, but few fully accepted the information. Conclusion. Internet-based risk assessment tools can produce beneficial effects on important social-cognitive precursors of behavior change, but lingering skepticism, possibly due to defensive processing, needs to be addressed before the effects can be maximized.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)657-669
Number of pages13
JournalMedical Decision Making
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017


  • cancer
  • health cognitions
  • health communication
  • risk perception
  • risk prediction


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