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Anxiety, Risk, and Breast Cancer Screening

Grant #: R55
PI Name: Carney P.
Title: Anxiety, Risk, and Breast Cancer Screening
Institute: National Institute of Nursing Research

The goal of the proposed study is to explore the association between a woman's perceived and her actual risk for breast cancer and her experience of anxiety and dread. This study will be performed in conjunction with an American Cancer Society (ACS) Career Development Award (CRTG-98-280-01-CCE), the objective of which remains consistent with the long-term goal of this research program: to understand and improve interval adherence to mammography screening in a population-based sample of women aged 50 and older. This R55 Award will allow the investigators to expand the research objectives supported by the ACS award to: 1) include further pilot testing of new and potentially better methods of understanding risk perception, and 2) better understand the relationships among the concepts of anxiety, dread, objective and subjective risk and adherence to interval screening. Rationale for these two research objectives include new and potentially better methods of understanding risk perception which have recently been developed by Dartmouth Medical School faculty and have been piloted in a study sample with limited generalizability (women veterans). To fully validate these instruments, testing in a broader population is required. Administering the two question sets will help to understand how women perceive risk (compared to objective measures of risk) and how perceived risk relates to adherence to mammography as well as to other health threats. In addition, fairly new evidence suggests that anxiety measures may not be adequately capturing women's experiences with mammography/cancer risks. Dread as a concept may more closely relate to women's experiences with mammography/breast cancer risk than pain or discomfort, embarrassment, or her discernment of public health messages. Psychologists' studies of perceptions of risk have found that the psychometric-attitudes to risk are summarized by three factors: dread, perceived risk, and objective risk.