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Although the gap is narrowing, Americans are more likely to be diagnosed with and die from heart disease than cancer, and yet many believe cancer is more common and their personal risk of cancer is higher than their heart disease risk. Using nationally representative 2013 Health Information National Trends Survey data, we assessed such beliefs and examined sociodemographic and psychological factors and health behaviors associated with these beliefs. 42.8% of participants rated cancer as more common and 78.5% rated their own cancer risk as equal to or exceeding their heart disease risk. These misperceptions were only modestly correlated. Beliefs about relative population risk were associated with various psychological factors, whereas beliefs about relative personal risk were not. Both beliefs were inconsistently associated with health behaviors. Accuracy in beliefs about cancer and heart disease relative risk and prevalence is low and future research should explore antecedents and consequences of these beliefs.
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- Heart disease versus cancer: understanding perceptions of population prevalence and personal risk
Jennifer K. Scheideler
Jennifer M. Taber
Rebecca A. Ferrer
Emily G. Grenen
William M. P. Klein
- Springer US