10 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 (www.yourdiseaserisk.wustl.edu) 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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