Priority of Risk (But Not Perceived Magnitude of Risk) Predicts Improved Sun-Protection Behavior following Genetic Counseling for Familial Melanoma

Jennifer M. Taber, Lisa G. Aspinwall, Danielle M. Drummond, Tammy K. Stump, Wendy Kohlmann, Marjan Champine, Pamela Cassidy, Sancy A. Leachman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Understanding multiple components of risk perceptions is important because perceived risk predicts engagement in prevention behaviors. Purpose: To examine how multiple components of risk perceptions (perceived magnitude of and worry about risk, prioritization of the management of one's risk) changed following genetic counseling with or without test reporting, and to examine which of these components prospectively predicted improvements in sun-protection behavior 1 year later. Methods: A prospective, nonrandomized study design was used. Participants were 114 unaffected members of melanoma-prone families who (i) underwent genetic testing for a CDKN2A/p16 mutation (n = 69) or (ii) were at comparably elevated risk based on family history and underwent genetic counseling but not testing (no-test controls, n = 45). Participants reported risk perception components and sun-protection behavior at baseline, immediately following counseling, and 1 month and 1 year after counseling. Results: Factor analysis indicated three risk components. Carriers reported increased perceived magnitude and priority of risk, but not cancer worry. No-test controls showed no changes in any risk perception. Among noncarriers, priority of risk remained high at all assessments, whereas magnitude of risk and cancer worry decreased. Of the three risk components, greater priority of risk uniquely predicted improved self-reported sun protection 1 year post-counseling. Conclusions: Priority of risk (i) seems to be a component of risk perceptions distinguishable from magnitude of risk and cancer worry, (ii) may be an important predictor of daily prevention behavior, and (iii) remained elevated 1 year following genetic counseling only for participants who received a positive melanoma genetic test result.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-40
Number of pages17
JournalAnnals of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021


  • Genetic counseling
  • Genetic testing
  • Melanoma
  • Perceived risk
  • Priority of risk
  • Sun protection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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