The role of anxiety in the performance of breast self -examination in premenopausal Hispanic women

Andrea Francisca Losada Morchio, Fordham University


Relative to other racial and ethnic groups, Hispanic women are less likely to report regular BSE (breast self-examinations). Anxiety is as a major barrier of BSE among less acculturated Hispanic women. This study focused on determining the nature of the relationship between breast health anxiety (BSE Anxiety and Breast Cancer Worry) and BSE performance (BSE Intention, Frequency, and Proficiency) among Latinas. Specifically, investigating whether this relationship was best described by a negative linear model (the “resistance” explanation of drive theory), an inverted curvilinear model (the Yerkes-Dodson hypothesis), or the indirect intermediary influence of the Knowledge of BSE Frequency. Participants consisted of 283 premenopausal Hispanic women in the Chicago area recruited by the Mujeres Felices por ser Saludables study conducted by Northwestern University. Participants were primarily Mexican, with low levels of acculturation, education, and SES. The current study utilized several primarily single-item measures designed by the Mujeres Felices study for the purpose of assessing breast health anxiety and BSE performance. Results of this study primarily supported the “resistance” explanation of drive theory. BSE Anxiety was negatively associated with both BSE Intention and BSE Frequency. However, contrary to all expectations, the relationship between Breast Cancer Worry and BSE Intention was positive, while no significant relationship was discerned between Breast Cancer Worry and BSE Frequency. Furthermore, the Knowledge of BSE Frequency did not serve an intermediary role in the association between breast health anxiety and BSE performance. The results from this study suggest that the intensely personal nature of examining one's breast tissue for potential malignancies contributed to both the negative and only significant relationship between BSE Anxiety and actual BSE practice. Furthermore, the use of single-item measures likely weakened the results of the present study. Therefore, the major implication of this study underscores the importance of designing and validating multi-item measures, specific to the personal aspects of both BSE Anxiety and Breast Cancer Worry among Hispanics. Specifically, personal fears inherent in BSE Anxiety, as well as personal worry, such as financial concern or intense worry (perhaps due to a family history of breast cancer) should be examined and addressed in future interventions.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Public health|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology|Womens studies|Behaviorial sciences

Recommended Citation

Losada Morchio, Andrea Francisca, "The role of anxiety in the performance of breast self -examination in premenopausal Hispanic women" (2002). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3045132.