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Women's decisions to seek evaluation of self discovered breast symptoms occurred in a complex social context

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Question How do women decide whether and when to seek medical evaluation of self discovered breast symptoms?


Analysis of narratives generated from 16 focus groups.


San Francisco, California, USA.


80 women aged ≥21 years who were recruited through community organisations, women's groups, churches, and senior centres.


Focus groups (6 groups of black women, 4 groups of white women, and 6 groups of Latino women) were held in homes and community meeting rooms and lasted 90–120 minutes. Women were asked what it would be like to discover a problem in their breast, what they thought they would do, and to relate the experiences of women in their families or communities. Sessions were audiotaped, data were transcribed, and narratives were independently analysed by 3 researchers.

Main findings

Women related 104 narratives of personal experiences with self discovered …

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  • Sources of funding: California Breast Cancer Research Program; National American Cancer Society; Sigma Theta Tau Alpha Eta Chapter.

  • For correspondence: Dr Noreen C Facione, Box 0610, School of Nursing, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143–0610, USA. Fax +1 415 476 8899.