Causal Beliefs and Perceptions of Risk for Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease, the Netherlands, 2007
Published Date:Oct 17 2011
Source:Prev Chronic Dis. 2011; 8(6).
Understanding people's perceptions of disease risk and how these perceptions compare with actual risk models may improve the effectiveness of risk communication. This study examined perceived disease risk and causal beliefs for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD), the relationship between self-reported risk factors and perceived disease risk, and the influence of causal beliefs on perceived disease risk in people at increased risk.
The sample (n = 255) consisted of people who were at increased risk for diabetes and CVD (aged 57-79 y). Participants completed a postal questionnaire assessing risk factors, perceived risk, and causal beliefs for diabetes and CVD. We used regression analyses to examine the relationship between risk factors and perceived disease risk and to explore how causal beliefs affect the relationship between risk factors and perceived disease risk.
Associations between risk factors and perceived diabetes and CVD risks were weak. Perceived risk, causal beliefs, and explained variance of risk factors on perceived risk were lower for diabetes than for CVD. Stronger beliefs concerning 1) overweight as a cause of diabetes and 2) smoking as a cause of CVD strengthened the association between these risk factors and perceived disease risk.
Although participants seemed to have some understanding of disease causation, they only partially translated their risk factors into accurate perceptions of risk. To improve understanding of risk information, health professionals may need to educate patients on how personal risk factors can contribute to the development of diabetes and CVD.
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