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Effect of health worry on processing of health information, behavioral intentions, and behavior

Zajac, Laura Eddy (2009) Effect of health worry on processing of health information, behavioral intentions, and behavior. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Although correlational studies show a relationship between worry about health concerns and higher rates of self-protective behavior, there has been no experimental research supporting the relationship and little research on the mechanisms by which worry might lead to health behaviors. This study experimentally induced a state of worry about influenza in undergraduate college students (N = 165), and examined their intentions to get a flu shot, systematic processing of a message about influenza, and vaccination behavior. The study had four main findings. First, the worry induction was successful in inducing worry about influenza. Second, participants in the experimental (worry) group reported significantly greater intentions to get a flu shot when compared with the intentions of the control group. Group differences in vaccination behavior were in the predicted direction, but were not significant. Third, participants in the experimental group had significantly higher rates of systematic processing of the flu message. However, systematic processing did not mediate the relationship between worry about the flu and intention to get a flu shot. The results support the role of emotion in health behavior decisions and introduce an effective experimental technique for inducing worry about a health condition.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Zajac, Laura Eddylzajac@pitt.eduLZAJAC
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairKlein, William M Pwmklein@pitt.eduWMKLEIN
Committee MemberSayette, Michaelsayette@pitt.eduSAYETTE
Committee MemberKamarck, Thomas Wtkam@pitt.eduTKAM
Date: 30 September 2009
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 11 June 2007
Approval Date: 30 September 2009
Submission Date: 23 April 2009
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: MS - Master of Science
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: anxiety; health behavior; influenza; information processing; worry
Other ID:, etd-04232009-115941
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:41
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:42


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