Information Processing and Negative Affect: Evidence From the 2003 Health Information National Trends Survey

Ellen Burke Beckjord, Lila J.Finney Rutten, Neeraj K. Arora, Richard P. Moser, Bradford W. Hesse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Objective: Health communication can help reduce the cancer burden by increasing processing of information about health interventions. Negative affect is associated with information processing and may be a barrier to successful health communication. Design and Main Outcome Measures: We examined associations between negative affect and information processing at the population level. Symptoms of depression (6 items) and cancer worry (1 item) operationalized negative affect; attention to health information (5 items) and cancer information-seeking experiences (6 items) operationalized information processing. Results: Higher cancer worry was associated with more attention to health information (p < .01) and worse cancer information-seeking experiences (p < .05). More symptoms of depression were associated with worse information-seeking experiences (p < .01), but not with attention. Conclusions: We found population-level evidence that increased cancer worry is associated with more attention to health information, and increased cancer worry and symptoms of depression are associated with worse cancer information-seeking experiences. Results suggest that affect plays a role in health information processing, and decreasing negative affect associated with cancer communication may improve experiences seeking cancer information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-257
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2008


  • health communication
  • information processing
  • negative affect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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