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Seah M, Tan SM
Correspondence: Dr Su-Ming Tan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Introduction Health professionals are a direct source of medical information to the public. Hence, it is crucial that their knowledge is accurate and aids in building awareness. Our aim was to ascertain the level of breast cancer knowledge and screening practices among nurses in a general hospital.
Methods Between January and April 2004, all registered nurses in a general hospital were surveyed by a self-administered questionnaire for their knowledge of breast cancer and screening practices. One point was given for a correct knowledge answer and zero for wrong/"not sure" answer. The maximum knowledge score was 19.
Results There were 716 (79.4 percent) respondents. The median score was 16 (range 2-19). The scores were high for general knowledge and natural disease progression, fair for knowledge of symptoms and treatment, but dropped when it came to knowledge of risk factors and screening. Nurses also held several common misconceptions held by the public. Those who had managed breast cancer patients had higher total scores (15.7). Only 63 percent did regular breast self-examination (BSE) and only 35 percent had gone for a screening mammogram. Chinese nurses who had managed breast cancer patients were more likely to do regular BSE.
Conclusion Nurses working in a general hospital had good knowledge of breast cancer progression, average understanding of symptoms and treatment, but lacked knowledge in risk factors and screening. They had low BSE and mammographic screening rates. Experience in managing breast cancer patients improved their knowledge and practices.
Keywords: breast cancer knowledge, breast screening, breast self-examination, health professionals, nursing knowledge
Singapore Med J 2007; 48(2): 158–162