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Self-Affirmation and Response to Health Risk Information

This study has been completed.
Information provided by:
National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC) Identifier:
First received: August 16, 2012
Last updated: April 19, 2017
Last verified: May 13, 2013


- Self-affirmation is the process of reflecting on values that a person considers important. This process may encourage people to be more open to information about health risks. It may also encourage them to change their behaviors or lifestyle to decrease these health risks. Researchers want to look at the effect of self-affirmation on people s responses to new health risk information. Because recent studies have linked alcohol consumption to increased risk of breast cancer, the study will focus on alcohol s link to breast cancer.


- To study how self-affirmation can change opinions following a message about a health risk.


- Women at least 18 years of age who drink at least two alcoholic beverages per week and/or at least three alcoholic beverages per sitting.


  • Participants will be recruited through an online panel. The study will be conducted entirely online.
  • Participants will respond to two short studies. The first will ask about life events and how they make people feel. The second will look at how people respond to information about alcohol and breast cancer.
  • For the first study, participants will write a paragraph or two about an important event in their lives. They will answer questions about how that event made them feel. They will also write a paragraph about an important personal value.
  • For the second study, participants will read information about alcohol and breast cancer risk. They will then answer questions about this information. They will also answer questions about their beliefs about alcohol and breast cancer.
  • Participants will receive financial compensation for being in this study.

Alcohol Drinking

Study Type: Observational
Study Design: Time Perspective: Prospective
Official Title: Self-Affirmation, Affect, and Implementation Intentions for Alcohol Cessation

Further study details as provided by National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC):

Estimated Enrollment: 1116
Study Start Date: August 11, 2012
Estimated Study Completion Date: May 13, 2013
Detailed Description:
This study aims to examine whether emotional state moderates the effect of self-affirmation on intentions to engage in proactive behavior following a message about a health threat. Specifically, we propose to examine whether self-affirmation a process by which individuals reflect on cherished personal values differentially affects the persuasiveness of a message about the link between alcohol and breast cancer depending on whether individuals are in a particular emotional state. Previous evidence suggests that self affirmation may reduce defensiveness to threatening health information, increasing openness to the message and resulting in increased disease risk perceptions, disease-related worry, and intentions to engage in preventive behavior. However, self-affirmation may be differentially effective depending on the prior emotional state of the individual. Human subjects (women who report having consumed one or more alcoholic beverages in the past month) will be randomly assigned to write about an emotional event (something that made them happy, sad, angry, or hopeful) or to a neutral emotion condition (writing about a room in their house). Then, they will be randomly assigned to self-affirm (write about why a particular value is important to them) or to be in a control condition (write about why a particular value might be important to someone else). Following the autobiographical emotion task and self-affirmation, subjects will read about the link between alcohol and breast cancer. Finally, they will be asked a series of questions about their intentions to reduce drinking, their perceived risk of breast cancer, and their worry about breast cancer. Drawing on previous research, we hypothesize that self-affirmation will be most effective for those asked to recall a happy or angry experience, and least effective for those asked to recall a sad or hopeful experience

Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years and older   (Adult, Senior)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   Female
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No
  • Knowledge Networks panel respondents will be included if they are women who report having consumed the equivalent of 2-3 or more alcoholic beverage per week and/ or 3 or more alcoholic beverages in one sitting.
  • Women will be included if they report drinking 3 or more drinks on any occasion, or more than 2-3 times per week.


  • Women will be excluded if they report never drinking alcohol or drinking monthly or 2-4 times per month, 1-2 drinks or less each time.
  • All men, and women who report a lower threshold of alcohol consumption, will be excluded
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT01668771

United States, Maryland
National Cancer Institute (NCI), 9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, Maryland, United States, 20892
Sponsors and Collaborators
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Principal Investigator: Rebecca A Ferrer, Ph.D. National Cancer Institute (NCI)