, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 127-137
Date: 08 Jun 2010

Preferences for Genetic and Behavioral Health Information: The Impact of Risk Factors and Disease Attributions

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Abstract

Increased availability of genetic risk information may lead the public to give precedence to genetic causation over behavioral/environmental factors, decreasing motivation for behavior change. Few population-based data inform these concerns. We assess the association of family history, behavioral risks, and causal attributions for diseases and the perceived value of pursuing information emphasizing health habits or genes. 1,959 healthy adults completed a survey that assessed behavioral risk factors, family history, causal attributions of eight diseases, and health information preferences. Participants’ causal beliefs favored health behaviors over genetics. Interest in behavioral information was higher than in genetic information. As behavioral risk factors increased, inclination toward genetic explanations increased; interest in how health habits affect disease risk decreased. Those at greatest need for behavior change may hold attributions that diminish interest in information for behavior change. Enhancing understanding of gene-environment influences could be explored to increase engagement with health information.