As screening programs for HIV, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, genetic abnormalities and other risk factors continue to proliferate, difficult questions are continually raised concerning the psychological and behavioral effects on the participants. Although members of the public health community have debated the costs and benefits of screening programs for over three decades, these questions have become especially pertinent with the current emphasis on early disease detection and prevention. While advocates argue that risk notification provides the impetus for individuals to improve their health habits and seek early treatment, skeptics contend that risk screening can have an adverse labeling effect, leading to increased anxiety, work absenteeism, and fatalism.
Now, for the first time, the widely scattered body of research on the effects of risk factor screening is comprehensively reviewed and evaluated in this volume. Here, an internationally recognized group of expert contributors summarizes and discusses current knowledge about the psychosocial consequences of risk factor testing, taking into account individual differences, gender differences, risk status, and intervention strategies. Both the public health and behavioral science viewpoints are explored through up-to-date reviews and stimulating commentary. Bridging the gap between data, theory and public health policy, this volume is essential reading for researchers, professionals and policymakers concerned with the prevention of acute and chronic disease.
"The first part of this excellent compendium edited by Croyle details the experience of multiple investigators with the effect of presenting information about health risks in a variety of disorders, such as Huntington's disease, breast cancer, AIDS and heart disease. ... Altogether this is a very timely collection." -- The New England Journal of Medicine
"Two primary themes are the psychological adjustment of those notified and subsequent behavioral and emotional effects, principally the reduction of risky behavior. The thirteen contributing authors were chosen for their experience in the effects of risk notification with both theoretical as well as practical experience in large scale screening and prevention programs for a number of diseases." -- Psychological Reports
PART I: Reviews of the Literature
1. Psychological Impact of Genetic Testing
2. Psychosocial Impact of Cholesterol Screening
3. Psychosocial Impact of Cancer Screening
4. Changes in Psychological Distress and HIV Risk-Associated Behavior: Consequences of HIV Antibody Testing
5. The Psychosocial and Behavior Impact of Health Risk Appraisals
6. Understanding the Impact of Risk Factor Test Results: Insights from a Basic Research Program
PART II: Commentaries