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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Public Health 1/2015

Using the health belief model to predict breast self examination among Saudi women

BMC Public Health > Ausgabe 1/2015
Mostafa A. Abolfotouh, Ala’a A. BaniMustafa, Aisha A. Mahfouz, Mohammed H. Al-Assiri, Amal F. Al-Juhani, Ahmed S. Alaskar
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

The authors report no conflicts of interest in this work.

Authors’ contributions

MAA conceived of the study, performed the statistical analysis and wrote the final draft, ASA participated in its design and coordination and helped to draft the manuscript, AAB & AAM & MHA & AFA participated in the design of the study, data collection, data entry, cleaning the data and statistical analysis, and helped to draft and revise the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.



In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, breast cancer (BC) usually presents at advanced stages and more frequently in young pre-menopausal women in comparison to western countries. There is controversy surrounding the efficacy of breast self examination (BSE) for early detection of BC in countries where other methods are available. This study aims to explore the perception towards breast cancer and towards BSE among Saudi women, using the Health Belief Model (HBM).


A convenient sample of adult Saudi female employees, working at King Abdulaziz Medical City, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (n = 225), and their non-working adult female family members (n = 208), were subjected to the Arabic version of revised Champion’s Health Belief Model Scale (CHBMS) and the Arabic version of Breast Cancer Awareness Measure (CAM), to assess their knowledge and attitude on BC respectively. Percentage mean score (PMS) for each HBM domain was calculated. Significant predictors of BSE practice were identified using logistic regression analysis and significance was considered at p < 0.05.


The majority of women heard about BSE (91.2 %), only 41.6 % reported ever practicing BSE and 21 % performed it regularly. Reported reasons for not doing BSE were: not knowing how to examine their breast (54.9 %), or untrusting themselves able to do it (24.5 %). Women were less knowledgeable about BC in general, its risk factors, warning signs, nature and screening measures (PMS:54.2 %, 44.5 %, 61.4 %, 53.2 %, 57.6 % respectively). They reported low scores of; perceived susceptibility, seriousness, confidence and barriers (PMS: 44.8 %, 55.6 %, 56.5 % & 41.7 % respectively), and high scores of perceived benefits and motivation (PMS: 73 % & 73.2 % respectively) to perform BSE. Significant predictors of  BSE performance were: levels of perceived barriers (p = 0.046) and perceived confidence (p = 0.001) to BSE, overall knowledge on BC (p < 0.001), work status (p = 0.032) and family history of BC (p = 0.011).


Saudi women had poor knowledge on BC, reported negative attitude towards BSE and their practice was poor. Working women and those with family history of BC, higher perceived confidence and lower perceived barriers on HBM, and those with high level of knowledge on BC were more likely to perform BSE. Breast awareness as an alternative to BSE needs further investigations. HBM was shown as a valid tool to predict BSE practice among Saudi women.
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