Uncertain futures: Individual risk and social context in decision-making in cancer screening

Craddock C. Lee Simon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


A core logic of cancer control and prevention, like much in public health, turns on the notion of decision-making under conditions of uncertainty. Population-level data are increasingly used to develop risk profiles, or estimates, that clinicians and the consumer public may use to guide individual decisions about cancer screening. Individual risk perception forms a piece of a larger social economy of decision- making and choice that makes population screening possible. Individual decision- making depends on accessing and interpreting available clinical information, filtered through the lens of personal values and both cognitive and affective behavioural processes. That process is also mediated by changing social roles and interpersonal relationships. This paper begins to elucidate the influence of this 'social context' within the complexity of cancer screening. Reflecting on current work in risk and health, I consider how ethnographic narrative methods can enrich this model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-117
Number of pages17
JournalHealth, Risk and Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2010


  • Cancer
  • Risk
  • Risk perception
  • Screening
  • Uncertainty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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