Does educational attainment shape reactions to genetic risk for Alzheimer's disease? Results from a national survey experiment

Matthew A. Andersson, Shana Kushner Gadarian, Rene Almeling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


While higher education is associated with healthy lifestyles and health literacy, it remains unclear whether education shapes reactions to varying levels of genetic risk for Alzheimer's disease (AD). In this study, participants (N = 701) in the National Genetic Risk Survey Experiment (NGRISE) received a hypothetical genetic risk assessment for AD (ranging from 20 to 80% lifetime risk) and then completed items on their cognitive (perceived threat to health), emotional (general negative affect), and anticipated behavioral (seek information, improve health behaviors, engage in public or private civic action) reactions to this risk. Individuals with a college education showed reactions to increasing genetic risk approximately twice or several times as strong relative to those of individuals with lower (high school, HS) education. In fact, behavioral reactions do not significantly increase with AD risk among those with HS education. Some educational differences in risk response widen at older ages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-105
Number of pages5
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
StatePublished - May 1 2017



  • Aging
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Dementia
  • Educational attainment
  • Genetics
  • Genomics
  • United States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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