Breast cancer is a leading cause of cancer deaths in women. Although mammography is recognized as the most effective early detection method for breast cancer, it remains underutilized. Communications theory and practice, with its emphasis on formative research, can provide a basis for developing strategies effective in changing mammography-related behaviors. Formative research, an important component of communications planning, can offer information useful in developing suitable messages and materials. The National Cancer Institute conducted small group discussions with white and black women, ages 40 to 75, to explore their attitudes, knowledge, and beliefs about mammography. Findings reinforced the results from quantitative surveys indicating that a perceived lack of their own need for the examination, lack of a physician referral, and procrastination were the main reasons that the women reported for not having mammograms. The discussions provided detailed information about the factors that can be used to guide development of messages and materials to promote mammography use. The results indicate that strategies for messages directed to either black or white women ages 40 years and older need to stress the same key message points. The points are that all women ages 40 and older are at risk for breast cancer; breast cancer can be treated successfully if it is detected early enough; mammography can detect breast cancer before a lump can be felt by a woman or her physician; women need to follow screening guidelines for age and frequency for screening; and mammography is a low-risk, quick, and painless procedure. Communication channels to reach women should include television, newspapers, magazines, and information available in physicians' offices.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health