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Assessing and managing risk and uncertainty: women living with breast implants

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This qualitative study explores how people assess and manage being identified as potentially 'at risk' when levels of risk are currently unknown or contested. It uses breast implants as a case study. Their safety has been the subject of much recent controversy. Using a qualitative approach, 23 women were interviewed about their experience of having breast implants. In this article we present three themes pertaining to personal risk assessments and management. Findings highlight powerful contextual issues, which influenced how these women thought about risk. Participants used various strategies to manage uncertainty in their lives and derived their interpretations of new information from their own experience and beliefs. A process is proposed for the way people formulate and reformulate risk perceptions over time, as new and sometimes conflicting information becomes available.


Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Health Services Research Centre, Victoria University of Wellington 2: School of Pharmacy, University of Otago 3: a Health Services Research Centre, Victoria University of Wellington

Publication date: 2000-07-01

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