Introduction: Preventing different kinds of health risks is central to general practice, yet little is understood of the mechanisms people use in handling risk. Aim: To analyze how people handle risk in everyday life. Methods: A comparative study on risk in; earth pollution; radiation from mobile phones; chemicals in a nursery; elevated cholesterol was combined to analyse the concept of risk in everyday life. In-depth qualitative interviews with 46 people made it possible to analyse a general perception of risk in everyday life. Interviews were analysed using a phenomenological thematical content analysis. Results: Although risk is communicated in the media and by health personnel, and thus has a general presence in society, participants in everyday life place risk at the periphery of life. Risk is not part of their everyday reflections. When risk manifests itself in everyday life, it is reflected and actions taken. Risk is handled and returned to the periphery of life. Handling risk is a multilayered ongoing process fluctuating between and along contexts in everyday life. The process relates to specific benchmarks anchored in everyday life and biography. Markers used are sickness, bodily and familial experiences, situated in social and cultural values. In managing risk, patients protect or try to re-establish a normal everyday life and a stable biography. Conclusion: Ordinary persons' handling of risk in everyday life is multidimensional. GPs need to be aware that patients' perceptions and handling of risk is dynamic and relate to their daily lives - this should be discussed in the consultation.
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13th World Organization of Family Doctors Europe Conference, 2007