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Breast self-examination awareness programs improve knowledge, attitudes, practice

Tristan Manalac
6 days ago
Breast cancer, if detected early, has a high 5-year survival rate. This underscores the importance of regular self-checks and clinical breast examination.

Despite good attitudes toward breast self-examination (BSE), being well-informed about the procedure may still not translate to improvements in practice among female healthcare workers, reports a Philippine study presented at the recently concluded European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Asia 2018 Congress.

The study included 96 female healthcare workers at least 18 years of age who were randomly assigned to receive a standard brochure with (intervention group; n=49) or without (control group; n=49) the BSE awareness program. Validated questionnaires were administered after 6 weeks to measure participant attitudes and knowledge.

At baseline, mean knowledge scores in both groups were good and were statistically comparable (intervention vs control: 9.39±1.54 vs 9.41±1.34; p=0.944). However, there were significantly more participants in the intervention group with good knowledge ratings (95.9 percent vs 83.7 percent; p=0.032). [ESMO Asia 2018, abstract 405P]

After 6 weeks, all participants in both treatment groups had good knowledge ratings. Moreover, scores significantly improved in participants who received the BSE awareness program (10.71±0.61; p=0.000) and brochure alone (10.61±0.61; p=0.000). The between-group difference failed to reach significance (p=0.637).  

Both groups were also statistically similar in terms of good baseline BSE attitude, both when assessed as mean scores (intervention vs control: 16.57±1.41 vs 16.71±1.57; p=0.637) and frequency (40.8 percent vs 53.1 percent; p=0.229).

However, after 6 weeks, only those assigned to the awareness program group showed significant improvements in mean attitude score (19.10±1.01; p=0.000). This was not statistically different from the postintervention mean score in controls (19.27±1.27; p=0.41), and the frequency of good attitudes remained comparable between the groups (100 percent vs 100 percent; p=0.156).

Principal investigators then scored the health workers during practice to measure the impact of the BSE awareness program on performance. Mean scores at baseline were comparable between the intervention and control groups (4.78±1.70 vs 4.56±1.72; p=0.220).

After the intervention, there were significantly more participants in the awareness program group who were able to successfully carry out BSE (73.5 percent vs 60.2 percent; p=0.007). However, there was no significant difference in mean scores between the two groups (intervention vs control: 7.88±1.38 vs 7.51±1.25; p=0.146).

“Similar to other studies, respondents with good knowledge also had good attitude towards BSE,” said researchers. “However, practice was poor, thus it does not translate that respondents with good knowledge and attitude will have a good practice of BSE.”

It is worth noting that on top of gains in knowledge and attitude, the BSE awareness program produced significant within-group improvements in practice, both in terms of frequency of successes and mean scores (p=0.000 for all).

“Hence, the study showed that a well-planned awareness program will greatly improve the knowledge, attitude and practices of BSE of healthcare workers, but superiority of the intervention is inconclusive,” researchers added.

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Most Read Articles
Pank Jit Sin, 30 Nov 2018
The use of pertuzumab in the adjuvant setting significantly increases the rate of invasive-disease-free survival (IDFS) of persons with HER2+ early breast cancer (eBC).