Increasing Mammography and Cervical Cancer Knowledge and Screening Behaviors With an Educational Program

Theresa A. Kessler, Valparaiso University


Purpose/Objectives: To evaluate the effectiveness of using an educational program based on self-efficacy to increase knowledge and create behavior change regarding recommended mammography and Papanicolaou (Pap) test screening guidelines.

Design: Pretest and post-test, prospective.

Setting: An urban county in northern Indiana.

Sample: 56 women who attended one of four educational programs and 47 women who responded 15 months later.

Methods: The one-hour educational programs based on self-efficacy included vicarious experiences and verbal persuasion regarding breast and cervical screening practices. Two programs were offered to local church groups as part of a health fair, and two were offered through health promotion initiatives sponsored by private businesses.

Main Research Variables: Demographics, knowledge of breast and cervical cancer, and screening behaviors.

Findings: Knowledge of risk and screening guidelines increased significantly immediately following the educational program (p < 0.001) and did not decrease significantly 15 months later (p = 0.57). Family history and history of human papillomavirus and sexually transmitted diseases were the top known risk factors for breast and cervical cancers, respectively. Participant-reported rates of screening behaviors increased 15 months later for mammography (100%) and Pap test (84%).

Conclusions: Educational interventions based on self-efficacy increased knowledge of breast and cervical health and helped increase the rate of mammography and Pap tests.

Implications for Nursing: Preparing women with strategies to complete a mammogram and Pap test is an important approach to enhancing self-efficacy and increasing screening behaviors.