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Breast J. 2007 Jan-Feb;13(1):19-27.

Are tri-ethnic low-income women with breast cancer effective teachers of the importance of breast cancer screening to their first-degree relatives? Results from a randomized clinical trial.

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  • 1Department of Preventive Medicine, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago 60612, USA.


The purpose of this study was to determine the efficacy of women with breast cancer as teachers of the importance of breast cancer screening to their first-degree female relatives. The sample was restricted to low-income working age women recruited from four hospitals. The study design was a randomized clinical trial. At each hospital, breast cancer patients (probands) were randomized into one of two study groups: (i) intensive, individual educational training on breast cancer screening or (ii) standard clinic education on breast cancer screening. The probands were instructed to teach at least one of their first-degree female relatives (21+ years of age) about breast cancer screening techniques. Three to six months after the enrollment of the probands, their relatives were contacted by telephone to determine breast cancer screening practices. A total of 79 probands and 96 relatives participated in the study. Relatives in the education group when compared with the control group were: 1.25 times more likely to have clinical breast examination (p = 0.005), 2.83 times more likely to have scheduled a clinical breast examination (p = 0.046), and, 1.36 times more likely to have been told about performing breast self-examination (p = 0.05). Additionally, relatives in the education group were more likely to have received a pamphlet on breast cancer screening (RR = 1.58, p = 0.009) and have discussed the importance of breast cancer screening (RR = 1.33, p = 0.020) from the proband. Special education training did not impact mammography utilization of the relatives. From these findings, a tri-ethnic group of low-income women with breast cancer can be effective teachers of breast cancer screening practices, at least for promoting clinical breast examination and transmitting messaging for performance of breast self-examination if given the adequate training.

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