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Fatalism refers to the general belief that events, such as the actions and occurrences that form an individual life, are determined by fate, and, thus, beyond the capacity of human beings to control. When applied to health, fatalism can be conceptualized as the belief that the development and course of health problems is beyond an individual’s personal control (Straughan & Seow, 1998). Research on the relationship between fatalism and health has generally focused on fatalistic beliefs about specific diseases, the most commonly studied being cancer. Powe and Johnson (1995) defined cancer fatalism as a situational manifestation of fatalism where an individual feels powerless in the face of cancer and views its diagnosis as a struggle against insurmountable odds.


The shift from acute diseaseto chronic disease as the major cause of morbidity and mortality in developed countries has highlighted the importance of lifestyle factors in the prevention of disease. This...

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References and Readings

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Correspondence to Karla Espinosa de los Monteros .

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© 2013 Springer Science+Business Media, New York

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de los Monteros, K.E. (2013). Fatalism. In: Gellman, M.D., Turner, J.R. (eds) Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine. Springer, New York, NY.

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  • Print ISBN: 978-1-4419-1004-2

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