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Breast Cancer Detection: Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behaviors of Women From Pennsylvania

Dana N. Rutledge
Andrea Barsevick
M. Tish Knobf
Marilyn Bookbinder
ONF 2001, 1032-1040 DOI:

Purpose/Objectives: To assess relationships among breast cancer detection behaviors and selected variables in healthy women.

Design: Correlational study.

Setting/Sample: A sample of 1,000 women was selected randomly from the 16,500 members of the General Federation of Women's Clubs of Pennsylvania. Respondents (N = 538; 54% response rate) were predominately white, well educated, lived in urban areas, and had an average age of 60 years.

Methods: Mailed packets with a professionally designed, scannable survey instrument that included questions related to detection behaviors, a risk index, health behaviors, attitudes, and knowledge.

Main Reserach Variables: Breast cancer detection behaviors: mammography, clinical breast examination (CBE), breast self-examination (BSE). Structural/demographic variables: age, education, residence, knowledge of breast cancer and detection methods, teaching history, encouragement, and risk index (family/medical history). Predisposing variables: susceptibility, benefits/barriers, confidence, social norms and influence, and general health motivation.

Findings: Women reported moderate/high adherence to recommendations for early detection of breast cancer. Mammography behavior was predicted by older age, being encouraged by a doctor or nurse, and greater risk. CBE predictors were greater knowledge and risk along with greater benefits, social norms, and health motivation. BSE behavior was predicted by having had BSE technique checked, greater knowledge, greater risk, decreased barriers to BSE, and higher health motivation.

Conclusions: Common predictors of breast screening behaviors include risk (family/medical history), knowledge, and general health motivation.

Implications for Nursing Practice: Educational efforts can be designed specifically to influence variables related to compliance with early breast cancer detection behaviors.

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