How do lay people understand the risk of developing cancer? A qualitative study using grounded theory procedures. [ 2007 - 2009 ]

Also known as: Lay people's understandings of cancer risk.

Research Grant

[Cite as]

Researchers: A/Pr Stacy Carter (Principal investigator) ,  (Lyndal) Claire Hooker Dr Samantha Thomas

Brief description This project is about cancer risk. New discoveries are regularly made about the contribution of genes, environmental exposures, and lifestyles to cancer risk. These findings are often reported in the mass media, or used in television advertising to encourage us to attend cancer screening or change our habits. Some cancers are said to be almost entirely preventable. In fact some experts argue that whether or not we get cancer is largely our own responsibility. This study doesn't ask what causes cancer. Instead it asks what the risk of developing cancer means to Australians and in Australian society. This question will be answered by conducting a rigorous analysis of healthy lay people's descriptions of their own and others' risk of developing cancer. The researchers will talk with a wide range of people about cancer risk. They will ask: how do we think about cancer risk for ourselves? how do we engage with information about cancer risk? Do we listen to it? Do we trust it? Does it make sense to us? What do we think should be done about it? The resulting findings will be compared with the assumptions that underlie cancer prevention activities. Finally, the discoveries made about similarities and differences will be actively translated for expert and lay audiences. There have been many studies of what it is like to be a cancer patient or to be screened for cancer. But there has been very little systematic study of the way in which healthy Australians make sense of cancer risk. This study will develop a detailed model of what cancer risk means to Australians. It will provide new knowledge to researchers and practitioners in public health, health psychology and sociology, and risk communication, guiding communication about cancer risk and research about cancer risk well into the future. It will help lay people and professionals to communicate more effectively about cancer risk, and thus support continuing improvement in cancer prevention in Australia.

Funding Amount $AUD 282,118.34

Funding Scheme NHMRC Project Grants

Notes New Investigator Grant

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