Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Self-affirmation may break down resistance to medical screening

Date:
December 23, 2011
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
People resist medical screening, or don't call back for the results, because they don't want to know they're sick or at risk for a disease. But many illnesses, such as HIV/AIDS and cancer, have a far a better prognosis if they're caught early. How can health care providers break down that resistance?

People resist medical screening, or don't call back for the results, because they don't want to know they're sick or at risk for a disease. But many illnesses, such as HIV/AIDS and cancer, have a far a better prognosis if they're caught early. How can health care providers break down that resistance?

Have people think about what they value most, finds a new study by University of Florida psychologists Jennifer L. Howell and James A. Shepperd. "If you can get people to refocus their attention from a threat to their overall sense of wellbeing, they are less likely to avoid threatening information," says Howell. Do that, and people are more likely to face a medical screening even if it means undertaking onerous treatment and even if the disease is uncontrollable. The findings will appear in Psychological Science, a journal published by the Association for Psychological Science.

The researchers undertook three studies, each with about 100 students of both sexes. In all three studies, they asked the participants to think of a trait they valued; they chose traits such as honesty, compassion, and friendliness. Participants then wrote either about how they demonstrated the trait (expressing self-affirmation) or a friend (not affirming themselves) demonstrated the trait.

Next participants watched a video about a (fictional) disorder called thioamine acetlyase (TAA) deficiency that ostensibly impairs the body's ability to process nutrients and can lead to severe medical complications. They then completed an online risk calculator for the disease and decided either to receive their risk feedback or not.

In the first study, fewer participants who wrote self-affirming essays avoided learning their risk than did participants who wrote non-affirming essays. In studies 2 and 3 researchers investigated the effects of affirmation on two conditions known to increase avoidance of risk feedback. In the second study, participants learned that testing at high risk for TAA deficiency would either require an easy or onerous follow-up examination process. Participants who were not affirmed avoided learning their risk more when they thought it might necessitate an onerous, as compared to an easy, follow up. However, affirmed participants showed little avoidance regardless of the difficulty of follow up. In the third study, participants learned either that TAA could be managed with a pill; or that there was no effective treatment. Again, the non-affirmed group avoided learning their risk almost twice as often when hearing they had no control over the illness. By contrast, affirmed participants were unlikely to avoid the news, regardless of the possibility of treatment.

The researchers acknowledge it's sometimes rational to choose not to know about an incurable disease you might (or might not) get. "But when it is important to prepare for negative events -- getting your affairs in order, finding the coping resources you'll need," Howell suggests, going through with that screening might wise.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jennifer L. Howell and James A. Shepperd. Reducing Information Avoidance Through Affirmation. Psychological Science, (in press)

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Self-affirmation may break down resistance to medical screening." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 December 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111221211326.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2011, December 23). Self-affirmation may break down resistance to medical screening. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111221211326.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Self-affirmation may break down resistance to medical screening." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111221211326.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

AP (July 30, 2014) British officials said on Wednesday that driverless cars will be tested on roads in as many as three cities in a trial program set to begin in January. Officials said the tests will last up to three years. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

AP (July 30, 2014) A ruptured 93-year-old water main left the UCLA campus awash in 8 million gallons of water in the middle of California's worst drought in decades. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus

Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus

AP (July 30, 2014) Scientists in Texas are studying the Ebola virus, which has killed more than 670 people across West Africa this year. Right now, the disease has no vaccine and no specific treatment, with a fatality rate of at least 60 percent. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins