Mammography Decision Making in Older Women With a Breast Cancer Family History
Article first published online: 4 MAR 2010
© 2010 Sigma Theta Tau International
Journal of Nursing Scholarship
Volume 42, Issue 3, pages 348–356, September 2010
How to Cite
Greco, K. E., Nail, L. M., Kendall, J., Cartwright, J. and Messecar, D. C. (2010), Mammography Decision Making in Older Women With a Breast Cancer Family History. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 42: 348–356. doi: 10.1111/j.1547-5069.2010.01335.x
- Issue published online: 25 AUG 2010
- Article first published online: 4 MAR 2010
- Accepted: October 17, 2009
- decision making;
- breast cancer screening;
- breast screening;
- breast cancer;
- family history;
- grounded theory;
- qualitative research
Purpose: This study's purpose is to describe and explain how women 55 years of age and older with a family history of breast cancer make screening mammography decisions.
Design: A qualitative design based on grounded theory. This purposeful sample consisted of 23 women 55 years of age or older with one more first-degree relatives diagnosed with breast cancer.
Method: Open-ended interviews were conducted with 23 women 55 years of age and older with a family history of breast cancer using a semistructured interview guide. Transcribed interview data were analyzed using constant comparative analysis to identify the conditions, actions, and consequences associated with participant's screening mammography decision making.
Findings: Women reported becoming aware of their breast cancer risk usually due to a triggering event such as having a family member diagnosed with breast cancer, resulting in women “guarding against cancer.” Women's actions included having mammograms, getting health check-ups, having healthy behaviors, and being optimistic. Most women reported extraordinary faith in mammography, often ignoring negative mammogram information. A negative mammogram gave women peace of mind and assurance that breast cancer was not present. Being called back for additional mammograms caused worry, especially with delayed results.
Conclusions: The “guarding against cancer” theory needs to be tested in other at-risk populations and ultimately used to test strategies that promote cancer screening decision making and the adoption of screening behaviors in those at increased risk for developing cancer.
Clinical Relevance: Women 55 years of age and older with a breast cancer family history need timely mammogram results, mammography reminders, and psychosocial support when undergoing a mammography recall or other follow-up tests.