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A cognitive-behavioral model of health anxiety was used to investigate reactions to genetic counseling for cancer. Participants (N = 218) were asked to complete a questionnaire beforehand and 6 months later. There was an overall decrease in levels of cancer-related anxiety, although 24% of participants showed increased cancer-related anxiety at follow-up. People who had a general tendency to worry about their health reported more cancer-related anxiety than those who did not at both time points. This health-anxious group also showed a postcounseling anxiety reduction, whereas the others showed no significant change. Participants with breast or ovarian cancer in their family were more anxious than participants with colon cancer in their family. Preexisting beliefs were significant predictors of anxiety, consistent with a cognitive-behavioral approach.

Original publication




Journal article


Health Psychol

Publication Date





171 - 180


Adult, Anxiety, Female, Genetic Testing, Humans, Male, Models, Theoretical, Neoplasms, Surveys and Questionnaires, United Kingdom