Date of Award

12-1-2013

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Health Education

First Advisor

Ogletree, Roberta

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to explore college students' breast and testicular cancer self-examination beliefs and practices using constructs of the Health Belief Model. Over a 1.6 million Americans are diagnosed each year with cancer. With that, over 200,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer while nearly 8,000 men will develop testicular cancer. If cancer is diagnosed and treated in the early stages, it will greatly increase the chance of survival and quality of life. One of the easiest methods to discover cancer early is to perform self-examinations. Self-examinations are safe, quick, private, and do not require a visit to the doctor. This study will explain reasons why some college students perform breast (for women) and testicular (for men) self-examinations while others choose not to perform self-examinations. A survey of 386 (202 female and 184 male) college students was conducted at a midsize university located in the Midwest. Participants were asked to complete Champion's Health Belief Model Scale. In addition, participants were asked to complete two open-ended survey questions regarding their self-examinations beliefs and behaviors. Overall, 129 (34%) participants performed self-examinations. Of those 129, females were more likely to perform self-examinations than males. In addition, females were also more likely to be taught how to perform self-examinations. Participants were more likely to perform self-examinations if felt susceptible to developing cancer and if they felt comfortable in their ability to properly perform one. Finally, participants were also more likely to perform self-examinations if they were given a cue to action (i.e. their doctor told them to or a relative had cancer). The significance of the data will help educators and health care professionals develop health programming to address the barriers that keep college students from performing self-examinations. In particular, there needs to be tailored programming for males because they are more susceptible to developing testicular cancer during their college years than any other time in their lives. Finally, a social marketing campaign could be an easy intervention to reach the masses. A Social marketing campaign would be a beneficial way to raise awareness, educate students on cancer in college, and show the simple steps in performing self-examinations.

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