Perceptions and knowledge of breast cancer among African-American women residing in public housing

Document Type


Publication Date



Objective: The purpose of this study, theoretically based on the Health Belief Model, was to assess breast cancer perceptions, knowledge, and screening behavior of low-income, African-American women residing in public housing. Methods: One hundred twenty (120) randomly selected women were interviewed to determine their perceived susceptibility to breast cancer, perceived severity of the disease, perceived barriers to breast cancer screening, and perceived benefits of mammography. Knowledge about breast cancer causes, risk factors, symptoms, and screening was also assessed. Contingency tables and Student's t test were used to analyze the data. Results: The results demonstrated that 80.7% of women aged 40 and older had a previous mammogram. Approximately 92% of women reported having a clinical breast examination, and 75.8% performed breast self-examination. Knowledge of breast cancer was poor among the women in this study. Most women did not perceive themselves or a particular racial or economic group to be more susceptible to breast cancer. Moreover, the women in the sample did not perceive breast cancer as a fatal disease. Overall, women in the sample endorsed the benefits of mammography and denied the relevance of commonly cited barriers to breast cancer screening. The constructs of the Health Belief Model were not significantly related to mammography or breast self-examination. However, perceived severity and perceived barriers were found to be significantly related to clinical breast examination. Conclusions: Rates of early detection behaviors in this sample are commendable. Future research should focus on actual determinants and facilitators of regular screening behavior within a theoretical framework that incorporates cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity.

This document is currently not available here.