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The Influence of the ""War on Cancer"" Metaphor on Illness Perception and Treatment Decision

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The purpose of this thesis study was to examine whether the "war on cancer" metaphor influences cancer perception and treatment decision. A total of 249 undergraduates (152 females) from a

The purpose of this thesis study was to examine whether the "war on cancer" metaphor influences cancer perception and treatment decision. A total of 249 undergraduates (152 females) from a large southwestern university participated in an online survey experiment and were either randomly assigned to the control condition (N=123) or to the war prime condition (N=126). Participants in the control condition did not receive the metaphor manipulation while participants in the war prime condition received the subtle "war on cancer" metaphor prime. After the prime was given, participants read a scenario, answered questions related to the situation, and responded to demographic questions. The results suggested that, compared to participants in the no-prime condition, participants exposed to the war metaphor were more likely to (a) view melanoma as an acute disease, (b) choose chemotherapy over molecular tests, and (c) prefer more aggressive treatment. These findings illustrated the unintended consequences of the "war on cancer" slogan. The results were encouraging and in the predicted direction, but the effect size was small. The discussion section described possible future directions for research.

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  • 2015-05