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Aboalfotouh, Al-Juhani, Bani Mustafa, and Alaskar: Using the health belief model to assess women’s perception towards breast cancer

Introduction: Most women in previous studies held pessimistic views about the curability of breast cancer (BC) (58.2%). The health belief model (HBM) has been used in several studies as a theoretical framework to study breast self-examination (BSE) and other breast cancer detection behaviours. This study was designed to identify the level of BC awareness and BSE knowledge, attitude and practice of Saudi women.

Objectives: To study the attitude of Saudi women towards BC and BSE using the HBM.

Materials and methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in an ambulatory care centre at King Abdulaziz Medical City, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. A total of 118 women were interviewed using a prevalidated Arabic questionnaire to collect data on (1) knowledge and practice of BSE, (2) knowledge of breast cancer, risk factors, warning signs and screening tools and (3) perception towards BC susceptibility, seriousness, benefits and barriers of screening and curability using HBM. For data analysis, a scoring system was applied by which the total scores of each of knowledge and perception domains and percentage mean scores were presented graphically.

Results: Only one-third of all women reported previous practice of BSE (36.4%). Percentage mean score of knowledge was 52.9 ± 22.9 for general knowledge, 60.9 ± 30.4 for warning signs and only 43.1 ± 24.0 for risks factors of BC. According to HBM, percentage mean score of different domains of perception to BC were as follows: seriousness (55.4 ± 14.5), benefits (74.2 ± 13.3), barriers (40.5 ± 13.0), susceptibility (45.0 ± 16.3), motivation (74.4 ± 12.0), confidence (54.7 ± 14.7). Those with knowledge of BC screening tests were as follows: 37.6% for mammogram, 41.7% for clinical breast exam and 55.1% for BSE.

Conclusions: Generally speaking, levels of knowledge on BC and its risk factors and warning signs were less than satisfactory. Although women reported a positive attitude towards the benefits of screening their was low perception to susceptibility. Therefore, conduction of mass education campaigns on BC are necessary.

Acknowledgements: Professor Mostafa Aboalfotouh and Ala’a Bani Mustafa for supervising this project.

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