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Soc Sci Med. 2010 Jul;71(1):45-52. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2010.02.038. Epub 2010 Mar 21.

Narratives that address affective forecasting errors reduce perceived barriers to colorectal cancer screening.

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University of Michigan, Center for Behavioral and Decision Sciences in Medicine, 300 N Ingalls, 7B02, Ann Arbor, MI, United States.


Narratives from similar others may be an effective way to increase important health behaviors. In this study, we used a narrative intervention to promote colorectal cancer screening. Researchers have suggested that people may overestimate barriers to colorectal cancer screening. We recruited participants from the US, ages 49-60 who had never previously been screened for colorectal cancer, to read an educational message about screening for the disease. One-half of participants were randomly assigned to also receive a narrative within the message (control participants did not receive a narrative). The narrative intervention was developed according to predictions of affective forecasting theory. Compared to participants who received only the educational message, participants who received the message along with a narrative reported that the barriers to screening would have less of an impact on a future screening experience. The narrative also increased risk perception for colorectal cancer and interest in screening in the next year.

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