Assessing the Effectiveness of Breast Cancer Education Workshops among Samoan and Pacific Islander Women in Southern California

Calif J Health Promot. 2010 Dec;8(SE):1-10.


Background: Samoans experience among the worst five-year breast cancer survival rates in the U.S., largely due to late stage diagnosis. There is great potential for screening interventions to reduce cancer mortality among Samoans. This paper examines the effectiveness of a culturally and linguistically tailored breast cancer education workshop for Samoan and other Pacific Islander women in Southern California.

Methods: Educational workshops were conducted in churches, homes, and the Samoan National Nurses Association office to Pacific Islander women. Effectiveness was assessed using pre- and post-tests. Self-administered questionnaires queried participants about demographics, access, personal or family breast cancer history, screening knowledge and behaviors, and plans to obtain screening (n=495).

Results: Participants were predominantly Samoan, with 57% reporting they were ≥40 years of age. At pre-test, half of the participants did not know how to perform Breast Self Examination (BSE), 40% never had a Clinical Breast Examination (CBE), and 30% never had a mammogram. Less than 40% reported having a mammogram in the past two years. At post-test, 98% reported increased knowledge. Older women were more likely to report plans for screening at post-test.

Conclusions: Health educators in Samoan and other Pacific Islander communities must recognize and appropriately address screening barriers such as cultural beliefs and lack of knowledge, and should consider working with important institutions such as the church.

Keywords: breast cancer; breast cancer screening; health education.