• Testicular self-examination;
  • testicular cancer;
  • social support;
  • young adult males

Purpose: To describe patterns of testicular self-examination (TSE) in a sample of young adult men and to identify factors distinguishing between men who do and do not practice TSE.

Design: A comparative descriptive design with a convenience sample of 191 adult men aged 18–35 years, recruited from a large industrial complex in the U.S. Midwest. Data were collected during several occupational health fairs held from 1999–2001.

Methods: A self-report, 75-item health risk appraisal (HRA) was administered to identify health-related lifestyle habits. Men who did and did not perform TSE regularly were compared using Mann-Whitney U statistics for discrete variables and t tests for continuous data. Discriminant function analysis was used to identify factors allowing prediction of frequent or infrequent TSE performance.

Findings: Sixty-four percent of 191 participants reported rarely or never performing TSE, and 36% practiced TSE monthly or every few months. Men who infrequently performed TSE were more often African American or Hispanic and had less than a college education. Other significant factors associated with infrequent TSE practice included less satisfaction with current job assignment; less satisfaction with life in general; greater worries interfering with daily life; more serious family problems in dealing with spouse, children, or parents; and reduced availability of people to turn to for support.

Conclusions: Demographic and socioeconomic variables were related to TSE knowledge and performance. Further investigation is required to determine why men, especially ethnic minority men, are not performing this important cancer-screening activity.