Health beliefs, health locus of control, and women's mammography behavior

Cancer Nurs. 1999 Apr;22(2):149-56. doi: 10.1097/00002820-199904000-00007.


Research has shown that routine mammography screening can significantly reduce mortality from breast cancer. The use of mammography screening, however, remains well below national goals. In an effort to understand the factors that influence women's mammography behaviors, this study explored the relation between health beliefs, locus of control, and women's mammography practice. Survey instruments used were Champion's health belief scales and the Multidimensional Health Locus of Control (MHLC) scales. The study used a convenience sample of 25 African Americans and 72 white women ages 35 to 84. Findings showed that women who participated in mammography screening were significantly more likely to perceive greater benefits, greater health motivation, and fewer barriers to screening than those who did not participate. These same three variables were similarly associated with greater frequency of receiving mammograms. It also was found that perceived benefits and health motivation were significantly correlated with shorter duration of time since the last mammogram. No support was found for perceived susceptibility, perceived seriousness, and health locus of control as predictors of women's mammography behavior. Implications for nursing research in further examining the MHLC and the Health Belief Model construct of susceptibility as they relate to mammography behavior are identified. Practice implications for nurses are suggested.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control*
  • Mammography / psychology*
  • Mammography / statistics & numerical data
  • Mass Screening / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Oncology Nursing*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Women's Health*