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J Cancer Educ. 1996 Winter;11(4):216-20.

Use of a photoessay to teach low-income African American women about mammography.

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Department of Public Health Sciences, Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC 27157-1063, USA.



Although incidence rates of breast cancer are lower among African American women than white women, mortality rates among African American women are higher, especially for women of lower socioeconomic levels. Reasons for this situation include the lesser use of breast cancer screening examinations by low-income, primarily African American women, late stage of diagnosis, and delays in treatment.


As part of community outreach and public health clinic inreach programs for the Forsyth County Cancer Screening Project, approximately 908 African American women who reside in low-income housing communities were targeted for educational efforts related to breast cancer screening. Early in the project, it was discovered that many of the women were unfamiliar with mammography and had very little awareness of how the entire examination was conducted. This low level of knowledge was particularly important because it was a barrier for obtaining regular mammography. A photoessay depicting the process of getting a mammogram was developed and used in community outreach efforts in three formats: in educational classes, as a display in the housing communities, and in physicians' offices. The acceptability of this photoessay to communicate knowledge of and reduce fears about mammography was assessed through evaluation surveys in interviews with a sample of 47 women from the target population.


Overall, these women liked the photoessay and felt that it provided knowledge about mammography and reduced fears associated with anticipating mammography.


Strategies such as this may be ideal to communicate important information about cancer prevention and control in low-literacy populations.

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