Breast cancer early detection: A test using hairstylists to promote mammography among women at risk

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Virginia Tech


An educational intervention designed to promote the use of mammography among women at risk of developing breast cancer was conducted in Blacksburg, Virginia in the spring of 1989. The intervention employed the theories of planned behavior and diffusion to raise women's intention to seek a mammogram.

The study employed a posttest-only control group design and was delivered at a hairstyling salon. Eight hairstylists were trained to promote mammography as a breast cancer early detection method and to provide educational materials about the importance of early detection and the advantages of mammography.

Eighty-seven women (35 or older), were subjects in the study. At follow-up, independent t-tests showed that women randomly assigned to the experimental group (n=43) had higher breast cancer early detection knowledge scores (p=O.03), stronger belief scores about their control over obtaining a mammogram (p=O.03), and higher behavioral intention scores to seek a mammogram appointment Cp<O.OOl) than controls (n=44). Direct benefits for the experimental group were an increased awareness about the risks of developing breast cancer, a stronger perception of affordability of mammography, and a stronger perception of their ability to fit a mammogram into their schedule.

The results of the intervention show that hairstylists trained as lay health educators may be valuable change agents in promoting breast cancer early detection in community educational interventions focusing on mammography.