Knowledge, sources of information and family communication about breast cancer
Jones, Karyn Ogata
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The current study seeks to investigate the perceptions and reported behaviors of male and female college students and their mothers about breast cancer under an uncertainty management (Brashers, 2001) theoretical framework. After focus groups identified key areas, a survey was designed and implemented to measure participants’ knowledge about breast cancer and genetics, mass media and other sources that provide information about breast cancer, and family communication about breast cancer. Results showed participants have contradictory perceptions related to genetic risk for breast cancer: participants overestimated the number of breast cancers caused by a genetic mutation, underestimated a woman’s and man’s chance of passing a genetic mutation on to her/his child, and provided inaccurate risk estimates in general. Breast cancer of a celebrity, breast cancer screening recommendations, breast cancer of a person other than a celebrity, and issues related to the effectiveness of breast cancer screening were topics most frequently reported from the mass media. Breast cancer screening, breast cancer of a friend, breast cancer of a family member, and genetic factors related to breast cancer were topics most frequently reported from family communication. Other sources of information, such as physicians, campus organizations, and the Internet, were examined, as were uncertainty management strategies of participants. Suggestions for future theoretical applications include third person effect and narrative theory, and implications for research and practice are discussed.