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To examine the psychological effects of bone density measurement, 298 women were assessed two weeks before the bone density scan, immediately before the scan, after the results, a week later and three months later. For the group as a whole, ratings of anxiety and perceived vulnerability were lower at the three month follow-up than at the initial assessment. Women who received a low bone mineral density (BMD) result were more anxious and reported more osteoporosis-preventive behaviours at the three month follow-up than women who received a high BMD result; these differences had not been apparent at the initial assessment. Women with low BMD results had higher ratings of perceived vulnerability after the scan, although for some of these ratings there were group differences before the scan. Women with a low BMD result showed a decrease in ratings of the seriousness of a below-average result, which may reflect minimization of the health threat.

Original publication




Journal article


Psychology and Health

Publication Date





585 - 608