Objective: This study assessed the relationship between exposure to breast cancer content in television news programs and fear of breast cancer.
Methods: A quantitative standardized Health and Media Interview Survey was administered to a random sample of 500 Flemish women aged 18-85 years in 2007. The survey contained closed measures on demographics, breast cancer fear, television exposure and potential confounding variables such as trait anxiety, perceived risk and experience with breast cancer.
Results: 80.6% of the women were moderately to very afraid of being diagnosed with breast cancer. Multinomial logistic regression results showed that women who had occasionally been exposed to breast cancer content in television news were 1.9 times more likely to be very afraid of breast cancer (95% CI 1.1-3.4). Women who had frequently been exposed were 3.3 times more likely to be moderately afraid (95% CI 1.1-10), and 7.5 times more likely to be very afraid of breast cancer (95% CI 2.4-23.8).
Conclusions: These results suggest a relationship between exposure to breast cancer coverage in television news programs and fear of breast cancer.