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Early Detection of Breast Cancer by Self-Examination: The Influence of Perceived Barriers and Health Conception

Denise Gasalberti
ONF 2002, 29(9), 1341-1347 DOI: 10.1188/02.ONF.1341-1347

Purpose/Objectives: To discover the factors that influence the decision to perform breast self-examination (BSE).

Design: Quantitative, correlational.

Setting: Institutional; urban and suburban.

Sample: A nonrandomized convenience sample of 93 women.

Methods: Willing participants were asked to complete by mail a short demographic form, the Reduced Laffrey's Health Conception Scale, Champion's Health Belief Instrument, and a BSE questionnaire.

Main Research Variables: Health conception, barriers to BSE, frequency and thoroughness of BSE practice.

Findings: A wellness conception of health and frequency were not significantly related, nor did a significant relationship exist between a wellness conception of health and thoroughness of BSE. A negative relationship between barriers and thoroughness was highly significant. A statistically significant relationship did not exist between barriers and frequency of BSE.

Conclusions: Those with a clinical conception of health practiced BSE less frequently. If health is viewed as the absence of disease, BSE may be perceived as looking for trouble. Subjects with greater barriers were less thorough when they practiced BSE. The specific barriers tested in this study (i.e., feelings about practicing BSE, worry about breast cancer, embarrassment, time, unpleasantness of procedure, lack of privacy) interfered more with the thoroughness of the behavior than with the frequency of the behavior. The most reported barrier was worry about breast cancer. The data suggest that worry may interfere with performing BSE thoroughly.

Implications for Nursing: This work offers insight into the thoughts and behavior of women to promote a behavior that could save their lives. Potential implications for nursing practice could include issues related to better education and assessment of barriers to practicing BSE in women.

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