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About us Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences Organization News PhD Defences BSS

Cancer in the media: unintended effects on prevention

PhD ceremony:Y. (Yingqiu) Wu, MSc
When:October 12, 2023
Supervisor:prof. dr. A. (Arie) Dijkstra
Co-supervisor:S.E. (Simon) Dalley, Dr
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Behavioural and Social Sciences
Cancer in the media: unintended effects on prevention

Despite advances in cancer treatment in the past decades, prevention is better than cure as between 30–50% of all cancer cases are preventable. Information about cancer (e.g., cancer treatment) in the media can influence people's cancer prevention behavior. Importantly, cancer information may have an unintended effect on people’s cancer prevention, even if the message producers weren’t aware of it. This dissertation examines how cancer treatment information in the media affects people’s inclination to prevent cancer in a series of studies: a content analysis of cancer information in UK newspapers and Facebook pages was conducted, followed by five online experiments investigating the effects of cancer treatment information on people’s inclination to prevent cancer. As a result, content analysis found that cancer treatment information, especially about treatability, is prevalent in the media selected. Online experiments showed that cancer treatment information affected people’s inclination to prevent cancer, both negatively and positively, and some individual characteristics such as low response or self-efficacy, make recipients prone to react to treatment information. In addition, gender differences were found with respect to the effects of cancer treatment information on prevention: men experienced more positive effects while women experienced more negative effects.