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Archives of Medical Science
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vol. 14
Systematic review/Meta-analysis

The utility of Leventhal’s model in the analysis of the psycho-behavioral implications of familial cancer – a literature review

Roxana Postolica, Magdalena Iorga, Mihaela Savin, Doina Azoicai, Violeta Enea

Arch Med Sci 2018; 14, 5: 1144–1154
Online publish date: 2016/10/19
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We aim to highlight the utility of this model in the analysis of the psycho-behavioral implications of family cancer, presenting the scientific literature that used Leventhal’s model as the theoretical framework of approach.

Material and methods
A systematic search was performed in six databases (EBSCO, ScienceDirect, PubMed Central, ProQuest, Scopus, and Web of Science) with empirical studies published between 2006 and 2015 in English with regard to the Common Sense Model of Self-Regulation (CSMR) and familial/hereditary cancer. The key words used were: illness representations, common sense model, self regulatory model, familial/hereditary/genetic cancer, genetic cancer counseling. The selection of studies followed the PRISMA-P guidelines (Moher et al., 2009; Shamseer et al., 2015), which suggest a three-stage procedure.

Individuals create their own cognitive and emotional representation of the disease when their health is threatened, being influenced by the presence of a family history of cancer, causing them to adopt or not a salutogenetic behavior. Disease representations, particularly the cognitive ones, can be predictors of responses to health threats that determine different health behaviors. Age, family history of cancer, and worrying about the disease are factors associated with undergoing screening. No consensus has been reached as to which factors act as predictors of compliance with cancer screening programs.

This model can generate interventions that are conceptually clear as well as useful in regulating the individuals’ behaviors by reducing the risk of developing the disease and by managing as favorably as possible health and/or disease.


disease, Leventhal’s model, family cancer, cancer screening, illness representation

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