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Reaping the Benefits and Avoiding the Risks: Unrealistic Optimism in the Health Domain


Hanoch, Yaniv; Rolison, Jonathan J; Freund, Alexandra M (2019). Reaping the Benefits and Avoiding the Risks: Unrealistic Optimism in the Health Domain. Risk Analysis, 39(4):792-804.

Abstract

People's perceptions of benefits and risks play a key role in their acceptance or rejection of medical interventions, yet these perceptions may be poorly calibrated. This online study with N = 373 adults aged 19-76 years focused on unrealistic optimism in the health domain. Participants indicated how likely they were to experience benefits and risks associated with medical conditions and completed objective and subjective numeracy scales. Participants exhibited optimistic views about the likelihood of experiencing the benefits and the side effects of treatment options described in the scenarios. Objective and subjective numeracy were not associated with more accurate ratings. Moreover, participants' underestimation of the risks was significantly greater than their overestimation of the benefits. From an applied perspective, these results suggest that clinicians may need to ensure that patients do not underestimate risks of medical interventions, and that they convey realistic expectations about the benefits that can be obtained with certain procedures.

Abstract

People's perceptions of benefits and risks play a key role in their acceptance or rejection of medical interventions, yet these perceptions may be poorly calibrated. This online study with N = 373 adults aged 19-76 years focused on unrealistic optimism in the health domain. Participants indicated how likely they were to experience benefits and risks associated with medical conditions and completed objective and subjective numeracy scales. Participants exhibited optimistic views about the likelihood of experiencing the benefits and the side effects of treatment options described in the scenarios. Objective and subjective numeracy were not associated with more accurate ratings. Moreover, participants' underestimation of the risks was significantly greater than their overestimation of the benefits. From an applied perspective, these results suggest that clinicians may need to ensure that patients do not underestimate risks of medical interventions, and that they convey realistic expectations about the benefits that can be obtained with certain procedures.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
08 Research Priority Programs > Dynamics of Healthy Aging
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:April 2019
Deposited On:31 Jan 2019 08:38
Last Modified:06 Apr 2019 01:04
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0272-4332
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/risa.13204
PubMed ID:30286526
Project Information:
  • : FunderUniversity of Plymouth
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title

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