Why Some Women Skip a Breast Screening – It’s Really Not Smart to Avoid Bad News; Even Potential Bad News, But, We All Do It, Don’t We?

People really don’t want to face bad news. They really don’t.

And, so, they avoid the bad news. They run from it.

And, sadly, when they run from it, it can become clear that running from bad news is not a good strategy…

Those are my thoughts after hearing a really revealing report on NPR’s Morning Edition yesterday. One of their frequent segments features NPR social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam. These are always fascinating. This segment was How A Co-Worker’s Breast Cancer Diagnosis Affects Colleagues.

Here’s the key excerpt:

BANERJEE: We find that on average when a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, her co-workers – her immediate female coworkers – reduce their propensity to have a breast screening in the year in which the diagnosis takes place. And this impact is persistent for at least two more years after the diagnosis for that woman.

STEVE INSKEEP: Wow. So someone sitting there and saying there’s a person over here who’s got breast cancer and this is awful. And now I don’t want to know about my own health situation.

So, bad news for one means the avoidance of potential bad news for many.

This is not just a problem regarding health. It is a problem in every arena. Office holders do not want to hear bad news; people don’t want to “read the news” because bad news is depressing. (Many such people will openly tell you “I don’t read the news. It’s too depressing.”).

And, yet, how do we tackle problems and threats without facing them? We don’t. And so, things get worse, and the consequences can be pretty devastating.

crucialThe fact that there are books like Crucial Conversations and Fierce Conversations and Crucial Confrontations are sort of proof that we do avoid the difficult, the unpleasant, way too often.

(I recently tweeted: sometimes a book title is enough by itself. Like “Crucial Conversations” – have those crucial conversations!).

It’s not good that a woman would avoid breast screening because a co-worker was diagnosed with breast cancer.

I don’t understand such avoidance. It makes no sense.

Of course, I do the same thing, in other ways. Apparently, most people do.

Not smart! Not a smart move at all!


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