Analysis of the components of cancer risk perception and links with intention and behaviour: A UK-based study.

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Riedinger, Christiane  ORCID logo
Klein, William MP 
Usher-Smith, Juliet  ORCID logo

Risk perception refers to how individuals interpret their susceptibility to threats, and has been hypothesised as an important predictor of intentions and behaviour in many theories of health behaviour change. However, its components, optimal measurement, and effects are not yet fully understood. The TRIRISK model, developed in the US, conceptualises risk perception as deliberative, affective and experiential components. In this study, we aimed to assess the replicability of the TRIRISK model in a UK sample by confirmatory factor analysis (CFA), explore the inherent factor structure of risk perception in the UK sample by exploratory factor analysis (EFA), and assess the associations of EFA-based factors with intentions to change behaviour and subsequent behaviour change. Data were derived from an online randomised controlled trial assessing cancer risk perception using the TRIRISK instrument and intention and lifestyle measures before and after communication of cancer risk. In the CFA analysis, the TRIRISK model of risk perception did not provide a good fit for the UK data. A revised model developed using EFA consisted of two separate "numerical" and "self-reflective" factors of deliberative risk perception, and a third factor combining affective with a subset of experiential items. This model provided a better fit to the data when cross-validated. Using multivariable regression analysis, we found that the self-reflective and affective-experiential factors of the model identified in this study were reliable predictors of intentions to prevent cancer. There were no associations of any of the risk perception factors with behaviour change. This study confirms that risk perception is clearly a multidimensional construct, having identified self-reflective risk perception as a new distinct component with predictive validity for intention. Furthermore, we highlight the practical implications of our findings for the design of interventions incorporating risk perception aimed at behaviour change in the context of cancer prevention.


Funder: NIHR Academic Clinical Fellowship

Research Article, Medicine and health sciences, Biology and life sciences, Social sciences, Research and analysis methods, Physical sciences
Journal Title
PLoS One
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Public Library of Science (PLoS)
Cancer Research UK (21464)
This study was funded by the Cancer Research UK Prevention Fellowship (C55650/A21464). CR was supported by an NIHR Academic Clinical Fellowship. JC, WMPK and RAF received no specific funding for this project. JAUS was funded by the Cancer Research UK Prevention Fellowship (C55650/A21464).