, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 429-434
Date: 19 Sep 2012

Health belief model and practice of breast self-examination and breast cancer screening in Iranian women

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The objective of this study is to determine the role of different health belief model components in practice of breast cancer screening among Iranian women.

Subjects and methods

A cross-sectional study of 500 women aged 18–65 years was conducted in an urban population under the coverage of a health therapeutic system in Babol, northern Iran in 2012. Demographic data and data regarding practice of breast self-examination (BSE), breast clinical examination (BCE), and mammography were collected by interview, and a standard health belief model questionnaire was used to assess women’s attitudes in six different domains based on a Likert scale that ranked from 1 to 5. The average score of each item for each domain was calculated. The Wilcoxon rank test and a multiple logistic regression model were used to estimate the odds ratio of each domain for performing breast cancer screening (BSE, BCE, and mammography).


The mean age of the women was 31.2 (9.4) years. Overall, the average scores in domains of perceived benefit, self-efficacy, and health motivation were significantly higher among those who performed BSE and BCE, but not for mammography. For the domains of perception of susceptibility, seriousness, and barriers, no significant differences were observed. Higher scores on the scales of perceived benefits, perceived confidence/self-efficacy, and health motivation showed significant positive association with performing BSE [adjusted OR (95 % confidence interval [CI]) 1.73 (1.11, 2.72), 4.01 (2.39, 6.73), and 2.01 (1.30, 3.08), respectively] and BCE [adjusted OR (95 % CI) 1.65 (1.0, 2.95), 2.33 (1.39, 3.91), and 1.58 (1.0, 2.53), respectively], but not for performing mammography. For perceived susceptibility, perceived seriousness, and barriers, no significant association was observed.


Positive attitudes toward perceived benefits, perceived confidence/self-efficacy, and health motivation have a strong association with performing BSE and BCE. The impact of health belief model subscales on breast cancer screening may vary with respect to culture and values.