Revisiting Candidacy: What Might It Offer Cancer Prevention?

Samantha Batchelor, Emma Miller, Belinda Lunnay, Sara MacDonald, Paul Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
30 Downloads (Pure)


The notion of candidacy emerged three decades ago through Davison and colleagues’ exploration of people’s understanding of the causes of coronary heart disease. Candidacy was a mechanism to estimate one’s own or others risk of disease informed by their lay epidemiology. It could predict who would develop illness or explain why someone succumbed to it. Candidacy’s predictive ability, however, was fallible, and it was from this perspective that the public’s reticence to adhere to prevention messages could be explained, as ultimately anybody could be ‘at-risk’. This work continues to resonate in health research, with over 700 citations of Davison’s Candidacy paper. Less explored however, is the candidacy framework in its entirety in other illness spheres, where prevention efforts could potentially impact health outcomes. This paper revisits the candidacy framework to reconsider it use within prevention. In doing so, candidacy within coronary heart disease, suicide prevention, diabetes, and cancer will be examined, and key components of candidacy and how people negotiate their candidacy within differing disease contexts will be uncovered. The applicability of candidacy to address modifiable breast cancer risk factors or cancer prevention more broadly will be considered, as will the implications for public health policy.
Original languageEnglish
Article number10157
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021


  • candidacy
  • lay epidemiology
  • breast cancer
  • cancer
  • modifiable risk factors
  • primary prevention
  • Primary prevention
  • Modifiable risk factors
  • Breast cancer
  • Lay epidemiology
  • Candidacy
  • Cancer


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