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BioMed Research International
Volume 2017, Article ID 2949020, 7 pages
Research Article

Exploring the Potential of Anticipated Regret as an Emotional Cue to Improve Bowel Cancer Screening Uptake

1Health & Biosecurity, Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation, Adelaide, SA, Australia
2School of Psychology, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA, Australia
3Discipline of General Practice, Flinders University, Adelaide, SA, Australia
4Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer, Flinders University, Adelaide, SA, Australia
5Cancer Council South Australia, Eastwood, SA, Australia

Correspondence should be addressed to Ian T. Zajac; ua.orisc@cajaz.nai

Received 26 July 2016; Accepted 15 January 2017; Published 2 February 2017

Academic Editor: Yvonne F. Heerkens

Copyright © 2017 Ian T. Zajac et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Objective. Bowel cancer is currently the second leading cause of cancer-related death in Australia and screening participation is suboptimal. This study examined the role of emotion in the form of anticipated regret (AR) and its relationship to screening intentions. Methods. persons aged 45 to 80 years completed a survey measuring demographic variables, readiness to screen, relative importance of health by comparison to other life priorities, satisfaction with current health, and AR if not participating in future bowel cancer screening. Results. AR was a significant predictor of future screening intentions. Those with higher levels of AR were seven times more likely (OR = 7.18) to intend to screen in the future compared to those with lower AR. This relationship was not compromised when controlling for other variables including gender and satisfaction with one’s health. AR levels were significantly lower in people who had been screened previously and in those with full health insurance. Conclusions. These results demonstrate that AR is uniquely related to future bowel cancer screening intentions. Future studies should continue to consider this as a useful target for behavioural interventions and identify new ways of delivering these interventions to improve their reach.