Background: Breast cancer is the leading cause of death among women aged 20–59
years worldwide, with 58% of deaths occurring in less‐developed countries. In the
Islamic Republic of Iran, breast cancer constitutes 21% of all cancers, with an
incidence rate of 22 per 100 000 women.
Aims: Since research into breast cancer screening among Iranian women is scarce and
results are contradictory, we aimed to explore women’s’ perceptions regarding breast
cancer screening behaviour and provide insights into how breast cancer is perceived
and approached. This could aid policy‐makers in drafting effective interventions to
stimulate women to perform regular screening.
Methods: We used the Health Belief Model as a theoretical framework. In‐depth
interviews with 22 women in Tehran were performed, based on a topic‐list exploring
the 6 constructs of the Health Belief Model: perceived barriers, perceived severity,
perceived susceptibility, perceived benefits, self‐efficacy, and cues to action. Dataanalysis
was based on the Constructivist Grounded Theory Method.
Results: The main barriers were fear, low priority and cultural values. Perceived
severity was low for the majority of women, while perceived susceptibility was high
for about half of them. Perceived benefit of screening was high for all women.
Women’s’ self‐efficacy was low when it came to breast self‐examination. Talking
about breast cancer screening and having somebody in their environment adopting
screening behaviour were important cues for taking up breast cancer screening.
Conclusions: Interventions should focus on diminishing barriers and increasing
women’s’ self‐efficacy and interpersonal communication about breast cancer
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