Breast cancer is the most common cause of cancer-related deaths among women worldwide. The aim of the present study was to determine and compare knowledge, behavior and attitudes among female nurses and teachers concerning breast self-examination (BSE).
Two-hundred and eighty nine women working in Aydin, Turkey (125 nurses and 164 teachers) were included in the study. The data were collected using a questionnaire designed to measure the knowledge, attitudes and behavior of the groups. Analysis involved percentiles, χ2 tests, t tests and factor analysis.
The knowledge of nurses about BSE was higher than that of teachers (81.5% versus 45.1%; p < 0.001). BSE practice parameters (i.e. age groups, indications, frequency) were similar (p > 0.05), whereas skills in performing self-examination were higher in nurses (p < 0.001). Fear of having breast cancer is the most frequent reason for performing BSE. Among nurses, the reasons for failure to perform BSE were the absence of prominent breast problems (82%) and forgetting (56.4%). The teachers who did not perform BSE said that the reasons were lack of knowledge on how to perform self-examination (68.9%) and absence of problems (54%). Both groups had unacceptable technical errors in the performance of BSE.
We conclude that nurses and teachers should be supported with information enabling them to accomplish their roles in the community. To improve BSE practice, it is crucial to coordinate continuous and planned education.