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Prev Med. 2006 Nov;43(5):379-84. Epub 2006 Aug 17.

Effects of a telephone counseling intervention on sisters of young women with breast cancer.

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  • 1University of California, 409 Warren Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720-7360, USA. jbloom@berkeley.edu



Women that have a first-degree relative diagnosed with breast cancer at an early age are at increased risk of the disease, yet they often lack information about their personal risk of breast cancer and early detection measures. An intervention to provide objective risk information, reduce worries, and promote screening and healthy behaviors was developed.


In 1999-2002, a randomized pre-post design was used to test a tailored telephone counseling intervention with a sample of 163 women whose sisters were diagnosed with breast cancer at age 50 or younger in the San Francisco Bay Area. Participants were interviewed by telephone regarding their breast cancer risk factors, perceived risk, worries, lifestyle factors, and screening behavior. A modified Gail model was used to compute an objective measure of individualized lifetime risk.


Risk overestimates averaged 25 percentage points. The intervention was effective in reducing overestimates in women age 50 and over but not in those under 50. The intervention was effective in increasing physical activity and reinforcing the conviction to maintain good breast health, but not in decreasing worries or increasing screening.


Telephone counseling appears to be a viable tool for reducing risk overestimates and promoting healthy behaviors among sisters of women with breast cancer.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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