We thank the following persons for helping with this experiment: Lynne Olson, Desiree Caudill-Larson, Sara Jensen-Fritz, and Trudy Thomas. Jim Council and David Wittrock provided helpful comments on an earlier draft. A preliminary version of this paper was presented at the American Psychological Society, June 1990, Dallas, TX. The work was supported by NIH Grant #R06-DE006.
Coping with Medical Diagnosis: The Effects of At-Risk Versus Disease Labels Over Time1
Article first published online: 31 JUL 2006
Journal of Applied Social Psychology
Volume 22, Issue 17, pages 1340–1355, September 1992
How to Cite
Mcaul, K. D., THIESSE-DUFFY, E. and Wilson, P. (1992), Coping with Medical Diagnosis: The Effects of At-Risk Versus Disease Labels Over Time. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 22: 1340–1355. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.1992.tb00953.x
- Issue published online: 31 JUL 2006
- Article first published online: 31 JUL 2006
We randomly assigned college students to conditions in which they learned that they had gum disease, were at risk of having gum disease, or did not have gum disease. Then we examined their coping responses both immediately after the diagnosis and 2 days later. Students that told they had gum disease saw the disease as more prevalent than students in the other conditions; students identified as at risk saw the disease as more common than students who were told they had no disease. In addition, disease and at-risk diagnosis subjects believed that the disease was less serious but, during the 2-day interval between tests, they reported experiencing more bleeding–a symptom of gum disease. All of these responses to diagnosis were similar immediately after diagnosis and 2 days later. The data support a model of how persons react to illness signs (Ditto, Jemmott, & Darley, 1988) and have practical implications for dental professionals involved in diagnosing gum disease.