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Causal attributions for raised cholesterol and perceptions of effective risk-reduction: Self-regulation strategies for an increased risk of coronary heart disease

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Self-regulation strategies are investigated in 317 people with familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH), an inherited predisposition to coronary heart disease (CHD). Measures of illness perceptions and behaviour were assessed 1 week and 6 months after a risk assessment for FH. In cross-sectional analysis, attributions to genetic causes had a small association with perceiving medication as an effective risk-reduction strategy, attributions to behavioural causes were related to perceiving dietary intervention as an effective risk-reduction strategy; and, perceived effectiveness of medication was associated with greater adherence to medication. However, there were few statistically significant prospective associations. These findings give tentative support to the proposition that genetic testing for preventable diseases will reinforce genetic causal models and, therefore, the perceived effectiveness of biologically based methods of reducing risk. There is a need to test the existence of similar effects, and their consequences for adherence to biologically and behaviourally based methods of risk-reduction, in newly diagnosed populations.
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Keywords: Causal attribution; cholesterol; coronary heart disease; genetic testing; perceived control; self regulation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Psychology and Genetics Research Group, Psychology Department (at Guy's), London SE1 9RT, UK

Publication date: August 1, 2007

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