Gail model breast cancer risk components are poor predictors of risk perception and screening behavior

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 1996;41(1):59-70. doi: 10.1007/BF01807037.


The Gail model is being used increasingly to determine individual breast cancer risk and to tailor preventive health recommendations accordingly. Although widely known to the medical and biostatistical communities, the risk factors included in the model may not be salient to the women to whom the model is being applied. This study explored the relationship of the individual Gail model risk factors to perceived risk of breast cancer and prior breast cancer screening among women with a family history of breast cancer. Data from baseline interviews with 969 women found a striking disparity between the objective risk factors included in the model and the accuracy of perceived risk and screening behaviors of this population, particularly among women over the age of 50 years. Risk perception accuracy was unrelated to all of the Gail model risk factors for all age groups. Reported mammography adherence was only associated with having had a breast biopsy in both age groups. Breast self examination (BSE) practice was independent of all measured factors for both age groups. These findings support the need for further research to identify additional determinants of risk perception and motivators of screening behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Risk
  • Socioeconomic Factors