The utility model of preventive behaviour is presented as an alternative to psychosociological analysis. All preventive actions are viewed as the consumption of those "goods" that affect the risk of illness or injury. Levels of consumption depend on, inter alia, utility (perceived benefit) and cost. Total utility yielded by risk affecting goods is the sum of that derived from the use value of the good, if any, and that from reduced anxiety which results from reduced risk. Many risk affecting goods are consumed mainly for their use value. An examination of the nature of risk affecting goods is presented, followed by an analysis of the factors that determine the anxiety associated with unwanted outcomes. The utility model places preventive behaviour within the framework of the economic theory of demand. The economic principles used in this analysis are explained and their relevance to the consumption of risk affecting goods is determined.
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