Research Article| Volume 15, ISSUE 5, P410-418, December 2011

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Women’s help seeking behaviour for self discovered breast cancer symptoms

Published:November 22, 2010DOI:


      Purpose of the research

      The aim of the study was to explore women’s Help Seeking Behaviour (HSB) for a self discovered breast symptom, in order to gain understanding of women’s experience of finding a breast symptom and how this influenced their HSB. In addition, the study sought to confirm the appropriateness of the “Help Seeking Behaviour & Influencing Factors” framework, for use in phase two of the study.

      Methods and sample

      A qualitative descriptive method was used involving semi-structured interviews with ten women, ranging in age from 25 to 55 years, who had discovered a breast symptom.

      Key Results

      Women’s HSB ranged from up to one month (n = 6), one to three months (n = 2) and over three months (n = 2), following symptom discovery. The key variables linked to delayed help seeking were denial, fear, social factors and knowledge and beliefs. The study verified that the variables within the “Help Seeking Behaviour and Influencing Factors” framework act as both facilitators and barriers to women’s HSB. Thus, confirming the appropriateness of this framework for a larger quantitative study of women’s help seeking behaviour.


      The study highlights that despite continued emphasis on early help seeking for breast cancer symptoms, delay is still prevalent amongst women. This reiterates the need for continued emphasis on the message of early detection for breast cancer symptoms. To this end, nurses have a significant role to play in educating women in both clinical and community settings, about breast cancer and early detection practices.


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