Perceptions of breast cancer across the lifespan

Elizabeth A. Grunfeld, M. Hunter, A. J. Ramirez, M. A. Richards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: The risk of developing breast cancer increases with advancing age. There is evidence to suggest that delayed help-seeking for breast cancer symptoms is associated with poorer survival and that older women are more likely to delay in seeking help for such symptoms. This study examined age differences in beliefs regarding breast cancer and intentions to seek medical care for breast symptoms in a general population sample. Method: A general population sample of 546 women completed a postal questionnaire about beliefs regarding the symptoms, causes and outcomes associated with breast cancer, attitudes towards help-seeking and beliefs about one's ability to seek help. The questionnaire was based on components of the self-regulation model and the theory of planned behaviour. Help-seeking intention was measured by asking participants to rate the likelihood of visiting a general practitioner for a range of breast symptoms. The subscales of each model were entered as predictors of intention to seek help for breast symptoms in a series of hierarchical multiple regression analyses performed for each age group. Results: The inability to correctly identify a range of potential breast cancer symptoms (identity subscale) was a significant predictor of intention delay in seeking help across all age groups. For women aged 35–54, negative attitudes toward medical help-seeking for breast symptoms (β=1.82, P
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-146
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2003
Externally publishedYes

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  • Breast cancer
  • Age
  • Illness perceptions
  • Delay behaviour


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