Worry and Rumination as a Consideration When Designing Health and Risk Messages
- Tamara D. Afifi, Tamara D. AfifiDepartment of Communication, University of California Santa Barbara
- Ariana ShahnaziAriana ShahnaziDepartment of Communication Studies, University of Iowa
- and Kathryn HarrisonKathryn HarrisonDepartment of Communication, University of California, Santa Barbara
Rumination is typically thought of as pessimistic, repetitive thinking or mulling that is deleterious for one’s health. Rumination, however, can take several forms and is not always harmful. In fact, it could actually be helpful in certain circumstances. It is common and often helpful when something stressful happens, like a health scare or problematic health diagnosis, for people to ponder or reflect on why it happened and brainstorm potential solutions to it. This is referred to as reflective rumination. Rumination affects people’s risk perceptions related to their personal and relational health and decision-making about their health. Research on negative rumination and health and positive rumination and health focuses on the impact of these patterns of thinking on health outcomes such as mental health, physical health, and relational health and as perceptions of health messages and risk likelihood.