Published in Cancer Detection and Prevention 1997; 21(4):370-379.

Providing Information About Breast Cancer Via Public Forums

Analee E Beisecker Ph.D, Jeanne Hayes MPA, Janet K Ashworth MA, Penny L Reese MA

Kansas Cancer Institute, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS

Address all correspondence and reprint requests to: Analee E Beisecker, Ph.D., Kansas Cancer Institute, 3901 Rainbow Blvd., Kansas City, KS 66160-7312.

ABSTRACT: This study examines whether persons who attended a breast cancer education summit or received written materials (i) exhibited improved knowledge about breast cancer; and (ii) used the information themselves, shared it with others, or implemented community education/screening programs. Participants (92 lay persons, 67 health professionals who attended; 44 who did not attend but received written materials) were primarily female, with a mean age of 47. They completed a 10-item knowledge questionnaire on four occasions (pre-conference, immediately post-conference, 9 weeks, 6 months). On the third and fourth occasion, participants also were asked how they had used the information. Paired samples t tests revealed that lay individuals (p < 0.001) and health professionals (p < 0.001) exhibited improved knowledge of breast cancer after attending the conference, used the information in their personal health care, and shared it with others, and some implemented education and screening programs. Of nonattendees, only the health professional group retained knowledge gain over time. A conference can produce increased knowledge about breast cancer and stimulate attendees to use information for themselves and share it with others. For lay persons, conference attendance is superior (p < 0.01) to written materials alone, in achieving long-term gain in knowledge.

KEY WORDS: behavior change, breast cancer, community education, knowledge change, women's health.