In a randomized clinical trial a comparison was made of two BSE teaching interventions delivered by primary providers during office visits in a group nursing faculty practice. Patients who reported no regular BSE (n = 121) received either individualized teaching focused on reducing perceived barriers and reinforcing benefits of BSE, or routine teaching limited to usual instruction in BSE technique. Patients reporting frequent/monthly BSE during the past year were comparison subjects (n = 81). Self-reported data on BSE behavior were obtained in questionnaires administered before the interventions and via telephone interviews three months after the visit. Analysis using chi square showed that, contrary to expectation, individualized and routine teaching were equally effective: 61.4% of the individually taught and 63.5% of the routinely taught reported frequent or monthly practice at followup. Both groups were significantly more confident in technique and ability to detect change in the breast. The previously non-practicing women remained significantly less likely than comparison subjects to be performing BSE monthly at followup. The perceived benefit of BSE giving peace of mind predicted non-practicers most likely to change.