Stephen L. Ristvedt, PhD
Associate Professor of Psychiatry
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Washington University in St. Louis (WU)
My research has focused on the role of stable psychological characteristics that are associated with maladaptive health-related perceptions and behaviors. Initial studies found that individuals who scored low on measures of trait anxiety (i.e. who tend to be complacent in the face of threatening situations) took significantly longer than others to recognize the seriousness of developing cancer symptoms and thus seek help. On the other hand, those cancer survivors who scored high on the same measures of trait anxiety (i.e. who tend toward excessive worry and negative rumination) reported significantly poorer quality of life 2-5 years following treatment. Additional studies are being conducted to determine dispositional predictors of adherence to cancer screening recommendations. Findings from these studies will inform future efforts to educate and motivate the public toward more adaptive health-related behaviors.