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Pilot study of an information aid for women with a family history of breast cancer


Objective — To develop and pilot study an information aid for women with a family history of breast cancer.

Design, Setting and Participants — The information aid, consisting of a booklet and audiotape, was developed by a multi-disciplinary team of healthcare professionals, breast cancer survivors and their relatives. Women with no personal history of breast cancer, on the waiting list for a familial breast cancer clinic at either of two centres, who could read English, were eligible for the pilot study which consisted of three sets of mailed questionnaires.

Main Outcome Measures — The baseline questionnaires included: demographic information: the Breast Cancer and Heredity Knowledge Scale (BCHK); psychological measures (the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory [STAI], Centre for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale [CES-D] and an item about breast cancer worry), and an item about breast cancer risk perception. Immediately after reviewing the information aid, participants completed a satisfaction survey, the risk perception and cancer worry items and a checklist about their personal family history. The third set of questionnaires, completed 2–4 weeks after reviewing the aid, was identical to the first. Patients then attended their scheduled clinic visit and an objective hereditary breast cancer risk assessment was made by the genetic counselling team.

Results and Conclusions — Of 97 eligible women who were contacted, 67 completed all three sets of questionnaires. Overall, women were very satisfied with the aid and 96% would recommend it to other women. There was a highly significant improvement in their knowledge scores after they reviewed the aid. Anxiety and depression did not change and there was a decline in breast cancer worry. Risk perception did not change significantly. Ninety per cent of women completed their personal family history checklist accurately. Several important improvements have been made in the information aid and it will now be evaluated in the community.



Warner E, Goel V, Ondrusek N, Thiel EC, Lavina H, Lickley A, Chart PL, Meschino WS, Doan BD, Carroll JC, Taylor KM. Health Expect. 1999; 2(2):118-28.

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