Health beliefs and illness attitudes as predictors of breast cancer screening attendance

abstract

  • Background: This paper considers the breast cancer screening programme in the autonomous community of Navarre, Northern Spain. Women from different areas of Northern, Central and Southern Navarre are involved. Methods: A sample of 512 women participants and 196 non-participants was taken from a total of 60,908 women between 45 and 65 years of age who received an invitation to attend the breast cancer screening programme. The participants were asked to fill in an individual structured questionnaire in their local Health Centre and the non-participants in their homes. This was done retrospectively. Results: The response rate was 100% for participants and 83.9% for non-participants. This study investigates the attitude profiles of the women attending mammography mass screening, with non-attending women (matched in educational and occupational levels) as controls. Subjects were assessed on dimensions such as attitudes towards health and illness. The results support Rosenstock's 1974 model that perceived severity of breast cancer and perceived susceptibility to breast cancer are related to participation in screening. Furthermore, results demonstrated that hypochondriacal beliefs, disease phobia and feared effects of symptoms were related to decreased participation levels. Conclusion: This study has explored the implication of health belief attitudes and the attitudes toward illness variables with women's participation in a breast cancer screening programme. It assesses the relative contribution of these variables to levels of participation, and the results of the study indicate that belief sets and attitudes are important components of women's cancer prevention behaviours.

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