Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

Living Edition
| Editors: Marc Gellman

Cancer Risk Perceptions

  • Michael E. StefanekEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6439-6_1214-2



  • Risk is the likelihood that something will happen.

  • Risk is a combined function of the probability of loss and the consequences of loss (e.g., severity of loss in the physical, psychological, social, and economic realms).

  • Risk is a population-based measure, the chance of something happening, as determined by its occurrence among a large group of people over time. An individual’s risk varies considerably within a given numerical boundary of a population’s risk, due to variations in personal, genetic, environmental, and behavioral factors.

  • Risk communication is the communication with individuals (not necessarily face to face) which addresses knowledge, perceptions, attitudes, and behavior related to risk.

  • Cancer risk perceptionis the judgment, based on cognitive and affective factors, of the chances that a given individual will develop cancer over a certain period of time. It can be significantly influenced by the...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References and Further Reading

  1. Brewer, N. T., Chapman, G. B., Gibbons, F. X., Gerrard, M., McCaul, K. D., & Weinstein, N. D. (2007). Meta-analysis of the relationship between risk perception and health behavior: The example of vaccination. Health Psychology, 26(2), 136–145.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Edwards, A. G. K., Evans, R., Dundon, J., Haigh, S., Hood, K., & Elwyn, G. J. (2006). Personalised risk communication for informed decision making about taking screening tests. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 4, 1–66.  https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD001865.pub2.Google Scholar
  3. Klein, W. M., & Stefanek, M. (2007). Cancer risk elicitation and communication: Lessons from the psychology of risk perception. CA: a Cancer Journal for Clinicians, 57, 147–167.Google Scholar
  4. Kutz-Micke, E., Gigerenzer, G., & Martignon, L. (2008). Transparency in risk communication: Graphical and analog tools. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1128, 18–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Lee, S., Liu, M., & Hu, M. (2017). Relationship between future time orientation and item nonresponse on subjective probability questions: A cross-cultural analysis. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 48, 698–717.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  6. Lipkus, I. M. (2007). Numeric, verbal, and visual formats of conveying health risks: Suggested best practices and future recommendations. Medical Decision Making, 27, 696–713.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Lipkus, I. M., Samsa, G., & Rimer, B. (2001). General performance on a numeracy scale among highly educated samples. Medical Decision Making, 21, 7–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. McBride, C. M., & Ostroff, J. S. (2003). Teachable moments for promoting smoking cessation: The context of cancer care and survivorship. Cancer Control, 10, 325–333.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. McCaul, K. D., Magnan, R. E., & Dillard, A. (2009). Understanding and communicating about cancer risk. In S. M. Miller, D. J. Bowen, R. T. Croyle, & J. H. Rowland (Eds.), Handbook of cancer control and behavioral science (pp. 133–150). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association Press.Google Scholar
  10. McClure, J. B. (2002). Are biomarkers useful treatment aids for promoting health behavior change? American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 22, 200–207.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Peters, E., McCaul, K., Stefanek, M., & Nelson, W. (2006). A heuristics approach to understanding cancer risk perception: Contributions from judgment and decision-making research. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 31(1), 45–52.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Reyna, V. F. (2004). How people make decisions that involve risk. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 13(2), 60–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Rothman, A. J., & Kiviniemi, M. T. (1999). Treating people with information: An analysis and review of communicating health risk information. Journal of the National Cancer Institute Monographs, 25, 44–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Schwartz, L. M., Woloshin, S., Black, W. C., & Welch, G. H. (1997). The role of numeracy in understanding the benefit of screening mammography. Annals of Internal Medicine, 127, 966–972.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Slovic, P. (2010). The feeling of risk. Washington, DC: Earthscan.Google Scholar
  16. Taber, J. M., & Klein, W. M. (2016). The role of conviction in personal disease risk perceptions: What can we learn from research on attitude strength? Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 10, 202–218.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media LLC 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychological SciencesAugusta UniversityAugustaUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Alan J. Christensen
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratories of PsychologyDepartment of Psychology, The University of Iowa SpenceIowa CityUSA