Psychological Impact of Health Risk Appraisal of Korean Women at Different Levels of Breast Cancer Risk: Neglected Aspect of the Web-based Cancer Risk Assessment Tool


Objective: Health risk appraisal is often utilized to modify individual’s health behavior, especially concerning disease prevention, and web-based health risk appraisal services are being provided to the general public in Korea. However, little is known about the psychological effect of the health risk appraisal even though poorly communicated information by the web-based service may result in unintended adverse health outcomes. This study was conducted to explore the psychological effect of health risk appraisal using epidemiological risk factor profile.
Methods: We conducted a randomized trial comparing risk factor list type health risk appraisal and risk score type health risk appraisal. We studied 60 women aged 30 years and older who had no cancer. Anxiety level was assessed using the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory YZ.
Results: The results of multivariate analysis showed that risk status was the independent predictors of increase of state anxiety after health risk appraisal intervention when age, education, health risk appraisal type, numeracy, state anxiety, trait anxiety, and health risk appraisal type by risk status interaction was adjusted. Women who had higher risk status had an odd of having increased anxiety that was about 5 times greater than women who had lower risk status.
Conclusions: Our findings indicate that communicating the risk status by individual health risk appraisal service can induce psychological sequelae, especially in women having higher risk status. Hospitals, institutes, or medical schools that are operating or planning to operate the online health risk appraisal service should take side effects such as psychological sequelae into consideration.