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J Womens Health. 1999 Apr;8(3):389-97.

Clinical breast examination in primary care: perceptions and predictors among three specialties.

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University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, USA.


To assess predictors of reported performance of screening clinical breast examination (CBE) by internists, family physicians, and obstetrician/gynecologists, we surveyed members of these specialties in four counties of Washington State. We contacted all physicians in the counties and identified 334 providers who saw women ages 50-75 and provided primary care as their principal activity. Seventy-five percent (252 of 334) responded. Physicians were mailed a survey and contacted for telephone completion if they did not respond in writing. The survey inquired about their current performance of CBE and factors that might predispose, enable, or reinforce its use. Differences across specialties were assessed using the chi-square statistic. Factors associated with reported performance of screening CBE in > or =90% of women were evaluated using logistic regression. Fifty-one percent of physicians reported that they perform regular CBE on > or =90% of their patients, although the proportion varied across specialty type. Beliefs about the benefit of CBE were positive and similar across specialties. Twelve percent of male physicians, but no female physicians, reported that women's embarrassment affected their use of screening CBE. In a multivariate model, male gender, family practice specialty, and the perception of patient embarrassment were all associated with lower reported rates of performing regular CBE (p < 0.05). Work to increase the performance of CBE should consider the role of male physician embarrassment and family physician training. Ways to facilitate delivery of preventive care and factors influencing the women themselves may also be important to increased use of CBE.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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