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Women Health. 1997;26(1):41-63.

Attitudes about breast cancer and mammography: racial, income, and educational differences.

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  • 1Ball State University, School of Nursing, Muncie, IN 47306, USA. (02AMMILLER@BSUVC.BSU.EDU)


This study examined the effect of race, income, and education on perceived susceptibility to and control over breast cancer, perceived benefits of and barriers to mammography, and knowledge about breast cancer and mammography use, in addition to determining if predictors for mammography use differed between races. Self-reported mailed survey data were obtained from a convenience sample of 1083 church women (78% Caucasian, 22% African-American) > or = 50 years with no history of breast cancer. ANOVA identified higher susceptibility and lower knowledge scores for African-American women; higher knowledge scores for upper income women of both races; interactions between race and income for benefits and perceived control; and interactions between race and education for barriers. African-American women were more likely to regard fear of radiation as a barrier to mammography (OR = .34; CI = .20, .57) and were more likely to worry about getting breast cancer (OR = .50; CI = .30, .82). Caucasian women were more likely to regard cost as a barrier (OR = 2.36, CI = 1.27, 4.40). For both races, variables predictive of ever having a mammogram were perceived control (White: OR = .69, CI = .54, .88; Black: OR = .50, CI = .38, .92), perceived barriers (White: OR = .88, CI = .83, .95; Black: OR = .75, CI = .64, .88), and knowledge (White: OR = 1.18, CI = 1.04, 1.33; Black: OR = 1.28, CI = 1.02, 1.61). Perceived benefits was predictive only for Caucasians (OR = 1.71, CI = 1.42, 2.06). Racial differences in perceived barriers to mammography and findings about the knowledge differences related to race, income, and education provide direction for health education efforts. The significance of cost factors for Caucasian and low-income women suggest that access barriers remain despite increased use of mammography.

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