Washington, 2 July-2014(ANI): A new study has found that fear and worry about skin cancer has a bigger influence on people’s use of sunscreen than information about the statistical likelihood of developing the disease.
Marc Kiviniemi, lead researcher and assistant professor of community health and health behavior said that the study is important because most of the people in public health communications focus on spreading knowledge and information. By not addressing emotions, they are potentially missing a rich influence on behavior when interventions don’t address feelings.
Kiviniemi’s study analyzed data from a nationwide study conducted by the National Cancer Institute. Nearly 1,500 randomly selected participants with no personal history of skin cancer were asked about their sunscreen use, and questioned to gauge their perceived risk and worry for getting skin cancer.
Frequency of sunscreen use varied, with 32 percent reporting ”never” using it, and 14 percent ”always” using it. Education was associated with increased sunscreen use and men and non-White participants were both less likely to use sunscreen.
UB researchers said that affective risk – fear and worry about a health issue, in this case skin cancer – and cognitive risk – the informational component – are both known influences on people’s health behaviors.
According to Kiviniemi, these findings show that clinicians might want to think more about feelings when encouraging people to use sunscreen. He added that in addition to providing educational information about risk, encouraging people to consider how they feel about cancer and how worried they are about, it might inspire preventive behaviors.
This study was published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine. (ANI)