The Influence of Social Support on Breast Cancer Screening in a Multicultural Community Sample

Maria Katapodi

Noreen C. Facione

Christine Miaskowski

Marylin Dodd

Catherine Waters

ONF 2002, 29(5), 845-852. DOI: 10.1188/02.ONF.845-852

Purpose/Objectives: To examine the relationship between women's reported social support and their adherence to recommended breast cancer screening guidelines.

Design: Descriptive, cross-sectional survey.

Setting: Community women's organizations throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

Sample: 833 mostly low-income women with a mean age of 46.2 years from three racial or ethnic groups (i.e., Latina, Caucasian, and African American) who were not breast cancer survivors.

Methods: Social support was measured with a five-item, four-point, Likert scale developed for the study (Cronbach's alpha = 0.7248). Adherence to screening guidelines was measured by asking frequency of performing breast self-examination (BSE) and frequency of obtaining a clinical breast examination (CBE) and a mammogram. Research assistants and leaders of women's organizations conducted the survey in work and community settings.

Main Research Variables: Social support, performance of BSE, obtaining a CBE and a mammogram, income, education, spoken language, and level of acculturation.

Findings: Higher levels of social support were related to higher income and higher education. Lower levels of social support were associated with being Latina, completing the survey in Spanish, and being born abroad. Women who did not adhere to screening guidelines (for BSE or CBE) reported less social support.

Conclusions: Social support is associated with adherence to breast cancer screening guidelines.

Implications for Nursing: Nurses should assess women's levels of social support as a factor when evaluating adherence to breast cancer screening guidelines.

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