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Affective forecasting and medication decision making in breast-cancer prevention.

Hoerger M, Scherer LD, Fagerlin A. Affective forecasting and medication decision making in breast-cancer prevention. Health psychology : official journal of the Division of Health Psychology, American Psychological Association. 2016 Jun 1; 35(6):594-603.

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OBJECTIVE: Over 2 million American women at elevated risk for breast cancer are eligible to take chemoprevention medications such as tamoxifen and raloxifene, which can cut in half the risk of developing breast cancer, but which also have a number of side effects. Historically, very few at-risk women have opted to use chemoprevention medications. Affective forecasting theory suggests that people may avoid these medications if they expect taking them to increase their health-related stress. METHOD: After receiving an individually tailored decision aid that provided personalized information about the risks and benefits of these medications, 661 women at elevated risk of breast cancer were asked to make 3 affective forecasts, predicting what their level of health-related stress would be if they took tamoxifen, raloxifene, or neither medication. They also completed measures of decisional preferences and intentions, and at a 3-month follow-up, reported on whether or not they had decided to use either medication. RESULTS: On the affective forecasting items, very few women ( < 10%) expected the medications to reduce their health-related stress, relative to no medication at all. Participants with more negative affective forecasts about taking a chemoprevention medication expressed lower preferences and intentions for using the medications (Cohen's ds from 0.74 to 0.79) and were more likely to have opted against using medication at follow-up (OR range = 1.34-2.66). CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that affective forecasting may explain avoidance of breast-cancer chemoprevention medications. They also highlight the need for more research aimed at integrating emotional content into decision aids. (PsycINFO Database Record

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