Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 7–22 | Cite as

The North Carolina Breast Cancer Screening Program: foundations and design of a model for reaching older, minority, rural women

  • Jo Anne L. Earp
  • Mary Altpeter
  • Linda Mayne
  • Claire I. Viadro
  • Michael S. O'Malley


Breast cancer screening programs do not reach all women at the same rate. Screening mammography use varies according to sociodemographic characteristics; mammography utilization is highest among women in their fifties but then decreases with age. In North Carolina, breast cancer is a particular burden for Black and lower-income women. Black women are more likely to be diagnosed with late stage disease, and their rate of breast cancer mortality is higher than it is for White women even though the incidence in White women is greater. Older, Black, and low-income women are less likely to obtain screening by mammography and clinical breast examination. The Black-White gap is even more pronounced among rural women, in part because they are more likely to be poor.

The North Carolina Breast Cancer Screening Program (NC-BCSP) was established to increase the rate of regular mammography screening by an absolute 20% in 3 years among older Black women ages 50 and older in five rural counties in the eastern part of the state. In this paper, we describe the genesis of this comprehensive community intervention model, highlighting the behavioral science constructs, health education principles, and theories of behavioral and organizational change that form its conceptual foundation. NC-BCSP's theoretical foundations include the social ecological perspective, the PRECEDE model of health promotion, the Health Belief Model of individual change, and the “stages of change” transtheoretical model. We also review the experiences and lessons learned from two previous outreach initiatives in North Carolina that provided valuable “lessons” in the development of the NC-BCSP intervention model. In the second half of the paper, we describe the actual NC-BCSP interventions, activities, and evaluation tools, citing specific examples of how the underlying theories are implemented.

NC-BCSP's goal goes beyond individual behavior change to raise low mammography screening rates among Black women in rural North Carolina. Its ultimate objective is to create linkages across agencies, and between agencies and communities, that will endure after the research project ends.

Key words

breast cancer mammography screening rural and minority women social ecological theory community intervention 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jo Anne L. Earp
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mary Altpeter
    • 2
  • Linda Mayne
    • 2
  • Claire I. Viadro
    • 1
  • Michael S. O'Malley
    • 2
  1. 1.Dept. of Health Education and Health Behavior, School of Public Health, CB#7400University of North Carolina at Chapel HillUSA
  2. 2.UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, School of Medicine, CB#7400University of North Carolina at Chapel HillUSA

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