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The purpose of this study was to explore how perceived threat of type 2 diabetes (T2D) is shaped by risk factor knowledge and promotes the engagement of protective health behaviors among rural adults.Participants (N = 252) completed a cross-sectional mixed-mode survey. Chi-squared analyses were computed to examine differences in perceived threat by demographic factors and knowledge of T2D risk factors. Logistic regressions were conducted to examine the relationship between T2D perceived threat and engagement in physical activity and health screenings.Perceived threat and knowledge of T2D risk factors were high. Perceived susceptibility was significantly higher among women, whites, and respondents with high body mass index (BMI). Respondents reporting physical activity most/almost every day had low perceived susceptibility to T2D. Perceived severity was significantly higher among respondents with high BMI. Blood cholesterol and glucose screenings were associated with greater T2D perceived susceptibility and severity. Higher BMI was associated with receiving a blood glucose screening.Health education specialists and researchers should further explore the implications of using audience segmented fear appeal messages to promote T2D control through protective health behaviors.