Journal of Cancer Education

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 436–439 | Cite as

Understanding Breast Cancer Survivors’ Beliefs and Concerns About Adjuvant Hormonal Therapy: Promoting Adherence

  • Alejandra Hurtado-de-Mendoza
  • Roxanne E. Jensen
  • Yvonne Jennings
  • Vanessa B. Sheppard


Adjuvant hormonal therapy is recommended for women with hormone receptor (HR)-positive breast cancer. Though critical, many patients are non-adherent to this therapy. Few scales have been developed to specifically address beliefs about adjuvant hormonal therapy. This study explores the clarity and relevance of the Beliefs about Medicine Questionnaire (BMQ) in the context of adherence behaviors to hormonal therapy in Black and White breast cancer survivors. We recruited women diagnosed with HR-positive cancer from the Washington, DC, area. An interviewer administered a standardized survey and conducted a cognitive interview. Participants rated the BMQ across three areas: relevance, difficulty, and clarity. We coded whether the comments identified item level issues: limited applicability, unclear reference, unclear perspective, or wording or tone. In-depth interviews were conducted with women who prematurely discontinued hormone therapy. The sample (n = 30) was equally split between Black and White survivors. On average, women were 57.9 years old (SD = 9.0). Overall 77% rated scale as relevant. Cognitive interviews revealed areas of perceived limited acceptability such as the notion of becoming too dependent or the notion of becoming worse if not taking the medication. Women who discontinued hormonal therapy (n = 2) felt ambivalent towards hormonal therapy as they reported having both positive and negative beliefs about the medication. Our study findings suggest new areas for further research and instrument development to accurately measure self-reported beliefs about hormonal therapy by HR-positive breast cancer survivors.


Breast cancer Cognitive interviews Survivors Medication beliefs 



This work was funded by the National Cancer Institute (Sheppard: PI, grant number: R01CA154848; Hurtado de Mendoza and Sheppard: MPI, grant number: R03CA191543-01A1) and the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), National Institutes of Health (NIH), through the Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program (CTSA) (Jensen: KL2 TR000102).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they do not have conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© American Association for Cancer Education 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alejandra Hurtado-de-Mendoza
    • 1
  • Roxanne E. Jensen
    • 1
  • Yvonne Jennings
    • 2
  • Vanessa B. Sheppard
    • 2
  1. 1.Cancer Prevention and Control Program, Department of OncologyLombardi Comprehensive Cancer CenterWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Health Behavior and PolicyVirginia Commonwealth University, School of MedicineRichmondUSA

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