, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 193-200

The relationship between social network characteristics and breast cancer screening practices among employed women

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Abstract

This study examined the relationship between social network characteristics and breast cancer screening practices among employed women. We hypothesized that larger social networks, higher levels of support from networks, and stronger social influences to undergo screening would be positively associated with regular utilization of mammograms and clinical breast examinations. Data were collected from women aged 52 and over who were employed in 27 worksites (N=1,045). Social network characteristics, breast cancer screening practices, and sociodemographic factors were assessed in a self-administered survey. Bivariate analyses revealed that social influences were significantly associated with regular screening; social support was only marginally associated with regular screening; and social network size was not at all associated. In multivariate analyses, only the perception that screening is normative among one’s peers was predictive of regular screening. Provider recommendation was the single most potent predictor of regular screening. These findings provide support for the importance of social norms in motivating women to adhere to screening guidelines. In addition, they underscore the potent impact of provider recommendations on women’s screening practices.

Preparation of this manuscript was supported in part by a grant from the National Cancer Institute, grant number RO1 CA66038.
The authors are indebted to the other investigators and staff who participated in this project, including Judy Garber, Elizabeth Harden, Sonia Hauser, Mary K. Hunt, Ruth Lederman, Nancy Lightman, Sharon Longo, Jeb Mays, Steve Potter, Natania Remba, and Jane Weeks. In addition, we are grateful to the Service Employees International Union and the 27 worksites participating in this study.