Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 216–224 | Cite as

Avoiding Risk Information About Breast Cancer

  • Darya Melnyk
  • James A. ShepperdEmail author
Original Article



Learning about personal risk can provide numerous benefits yet people sometimes opt to remain ignorant.


Two studies examined the role of perceived control, coping resources, and anticipated regret in women’s decision to avoid breast cancer risk information.


Women completed a health inventory and then read a brochure about either controllable or uncontrollable predictors of breast cancer, or received no brochure. Participants then received an opportunity to learn their lifetime risk for breast cancer based on their inventory responses.


Reading about controllable predictors of breast cancer reduced avoidance of risk information compared with reading about uncontrollable predictors or receiving no information. In addition, fewer coping resources, anticipated greater regret over seeking breast cancer risk information, and less regret over avoiding breast cancer risk information predicted information avoidance.


Reading about controllable predictors of breast cancer reduces avoidance of breast cancer risk information.


Breast cancer Information seeking and avoidance Perceived control Coping resources Anticipated regret 



These data were part of a dissertation conducted by the first author under the supervision of the second author. Preparation of this article was supported in part by an IPA between the National Cancer Institute and the second author. We thank Kate Sweeny and Wendi Malone for their assistance in the development of this research and for helpful comments on earlier drafts of the manuscript, and Jenny Howell for assistance with data analysis. Address correspondence to either Darya Melnyk,, or James Shepperd,

Conflict of Interest Statement

The authors have no conflict of interest to disclose.


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Copyright information

© The Society of Behavioral Medicine 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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