The present study surveyed the current levels of knowledge and the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of health workers (mostly nurses) with respect to breast cancer and its early detection. In addition, health workers were compared with non-health workers to determine whether the two groups differed with respect to the above variables. The sample comprised 402 women sampled from work sites in a rural community in the Midwest. The results indicated that health workers (n = 96) scored very high on knowledge, had a very positive attitude toward the notion of early detection, and reported strong intentions concerning future participation in a variety of early detection behaviors. Fifty % performed breast self-examinations once a month or more frequently. A stepwise discriminant analysis found that, compared to non-health workers, health workers saw mammography as less dangerous, believed breast cancer to be less common and its causes less controllable, and were less likely to perceive early detection as being beneficial. On the other hand, health workers scored higher than non-health workers on self-efficacy, breast self-examination frequency, and importance of breasts in determining one's self concept. Health workers also rated breast cancer as being more life-threatening and were more likely to believe that the disease was caused by external as opposed to internal factors.

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