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What health policy makers need to know about mismatches between public perceptions of disease risk, prevalence and severity: a national survey

Armitage, CJ; Munro, KJ; Mandavia, R; Schilder, AGM; (2021) What health policy makers need to know about mismatches between public perceptions of disease risk, prevalence and severity: a national survey. International Journal of Audiology 10.1080/14992027.2021.1881175. (In press).

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Abstract

Objectives: The aim of this study was to assess people’s perceptions of their personal risk, population prevalence and perceived severity in relation to three key health conditions (cancer, heart disease and hearing loss), gauge the size of any misperceptions, and identify correlates of such misperceptions. / Design: This study was a cross-sectional survey. / Study sample: A total of 10,401 adults representative of the UK population were participated in the study. / Results: Clear majorities of people incorrectly believe that they are at greater personal risk of cancer (>75%), that cancer is more prevalent in the population (>50%) and that cancer is more disabling (>65%), than either heart disease or hearing loss. In turn, people consistently regard their personal risk of hearing loss, the population prevalence of hearing loss and the severity of hearing loss as lower than either cancer or heart disease. Multiple regression analyses showed inconsistent patterns of relationships between people’s beliefs, sociodemographic characteristics and their health behaviours. / Conclusions: Accuracy in beliefs about cancer, heart disease and hearing loss is low, and the relationships between these beliefs, their potential antecedents and consequences are complex. Policy makers should ensure close adherence to evidence or risk-making decisions that are costly both in financial terms and in terms of suboptimal population subjective well-being.

Type: Article
Title: What health policy makers need to know about mismatches between public perceptions of disease risk, prevalence and severity: a national survey
DOI: 10.1080/14992027.2021.1881175
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1080/14992027.2021.1881175
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Risk, perceptions, public opinions, health policy
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > The Ear Institute
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10126013
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