Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Fear, not data, motivates sunscreen users, research shows

02.07.2014

We’re often told that worrying can be harmful to one’s health. But University at Buffalo researchers say that when it comes to preventing skin cancer, a little fear is good for you.

In a study published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine, the UB researchers found that fear and worry about skin cancer had a bigger influence on people’s use of sunscreen than information about the statistical likelihood of developing the disease.


When it comes to using sunscreen, fear of developing skin cancer has a greater influence than information about statistical likelihood of developing the disease, says UB's Marc Kiviniemi. Photo: Douglas Levere

“Most health behavior studies don’t account for the more visceral, emotional reactions that lead people to do risky behaviors, like eat junk food or ignore the protective benefits of sunscreen,” says Marc Kiviniemi, lead researcher and assistant professor of community health and health behavior.

“This study is important because most of what we do in public health communications focuses on spreading knowledge and information. By not addressing emotions, we’re 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.

In each case, however, worry more directly influenced people’s behavior than informational findings, and increasing degrees of worry were associated with increased sunscreen use.

“Our research looked at the interplay of emotions and facts in decision making– that is, how do cognitive and affective risks jointly work to influence behavior?” says Kiviniemi. “The nature of their interrelation as an influence on behavior has not been examined until this study.”

UB researchers say 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.

However, they are often treated separately or are pitted against one another as “rational” versus “irrational” influences, says Kiviniemi.

“These findings show that clinicians might want to think more about feelings when encouraging people to use sunscreen,” says Kiviniemi. “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.”

While ultimately public health professionals can use the results to design better intervention tools, researchers are still a few steps away from understanding how to shape fear so that it is beneficial, rather than paralyzing, adds Kiviniemi.

Kiviniemi will conduct further research to examine the same relationship between risk perception and behavior in other types of health behaviors, such as colonoscopy screening and condom use.

Media Contact Information

Marcene Robinson

Media Relations Assistant

Tel: 716-645-4595

marcener@buffalo.edu

Marcene Robinson | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2014/07/002.html

Further reports about: Cancer Education Frequency Medicine cognitive colonoscopy screening skin skin cancer steps

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht A sudden drop in outdoor temperature increases the risk of respiratory infections
11.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists spin artificial silk from whey protein

X-ray study throws light on key process for production

A Swedish-German team of researchers has cleared up a key process for the artificial production of silk. With the help of the intense X-rays from DESY's...

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Breaking the optical bandwidth record of stable pulsed lasers

24.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Choreographing the microRNA-target dance

24.01.2017 | Life Sciences

Spanish scientists create a 3-D bioprinter to print human skin

24.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>