The Effect of Counseling on Breast Cancer Awareness in Rural Iranian Women: a Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial


In a community such as Iran where late presentation is predominant and the majority of breast cancer patients are diagnosed at advanced stages of the disease, there is an urgent need for improving the level of awareness about breast cancer and early detection measures. Given that rural residents are at higher risk for late diagnosis of breast cancer because they have less education, income, and access to advanced screening technologies, this study was conducted to determine the effect of counseling on breast cancer awareness of rural Iranian women. This randomized clinical trial was conducted on 60 rural women from the Abish Ahmad area in northwestern Iran in 2017. The randomized cluster method was used for sampling. From 20 rural health houses and centers, about one third were selected randomly. From the six selected clusters, three were randomly allocated as the control group and three as the intervention group. Using convenience sampling, 30 women between the ages of 40 and 69 were selected from the control group and 30 from the intervention group. The intervention group attended six group counseling sessions. Data was gathered using a demographic and obstetrical information questionnaire and breast cancer awareness measures. The chi-square, independent t test and ANCOVA by controlling for the baseline scores were used to analyze the data. After counseling, the mean knowledge about breast cancer score was significantly higher in the intervention group than in the control group (adjusted mean difference, 17.02; confidence interval (CI) 95%, 15.44 to 18.59; p < 0.001). The mean barriers to breast cancer screening score showed a significant decrease in the intervention group compared to the control group (AMD, − 1.74; 95% CI − 3.12 to − 0.36, p < 0.001). After intervention, the frequency of breast self-exam showed a significant difference between groups (p < 0.001); but for confidence about noticing breast changes, no significant difference was observed between groups (p = 0.08). Group counseling had a significant effect on enhancing breast cancer awareness of rural Iranian women, except for confidence about noticing breast changes.

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This article is adopted from a Master’s thesis. The authors would like to express their sincere gratitude to the research deputy of the Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, the health network of Kaleybar County, the health care providers of the Abish Ahmad district, and all the participants for their cooperation.

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Correspondence to Roghaiyeh Nourizadeh.

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Research involved human participants. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the National Research Committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from each individual participant.

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Alizadeh Sabeg, P., Mehrabi, E., Nourizadeh, R. et al. The Effect of Counseling on Breast Cancer Awareness in Rural Iranian Women: a Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial. J Canc Educ 34, 1083–1091 (2019).

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  • Breast cancer awareness
  • Breast cancer screening
  • Counseling