Cognitive Heuristics and AIDS Risk Assessment Among Physicians1

Authors


  • 1

    The authors would like to thank Jerry Vasilias, Regina Pingatore, and Taryn Gallis for help with data collection and analysis and Ken Rasinski for helpful comments on a previous draft of this manuscript. Portions of this research were presented at the 1989 meetings of the American Psychological Society in Arlington, Virginia, and at the 1989 meetings of the American Psychological Association in New Orleans.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Linda Heath, Department of Psychology, Loyola University, 6525 N. Sheridan Road, Chicago, IL 60626.

Abstract

Physicians (N= 331) reported perceived risk of HIV exposure, worry about on-the-job HIV exposure, and experience with patients who test seropositive for the HIV. In addition, the use of the availability heuristic was examined by responses to questions about talking and reading about AIDS, and the use of the simulation heuristic was examined by responses to questions about imagining oneself being exposed to HIV on the job. Simulation of the HIV-exposure experience related significantly to perceived risk (p < .001), even after variance attributable to actual experience and use of the availability heuristic was taken into account. Availability of AIDS information related marginally to perceived risk after variance attributable to actual experience and use of the simulation heuristic was taken into account. Simulation related strongly with worry about on-the-job exposure (p < .001), and availability was not significantly related to worry after variance associated with simulation and experience with AIDS was removed. Implications of these results for physician training are discussed.

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