Breast Cancer Information Behaviours and Needs among Singapore Women: A Qualitative Study

Document Type : Research Articles


1 Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, National University of Singapore and National University Health System, Singapore.

2 National University of Singapore, Singapore.

3 Singapore Cancer Society, Singapore.


Background: There is growing evidence on cancer communication and its impact on cancer-related health outcomes; however, little is known about how women gain access to and use breast cancer information in the multi-ethnic Asian context. This paper aimed to explore the breast cancer information acquisition behaviours and needs among Singapore women who attended a community-based health organisation for mammography screening. Methods, design and setting: Qualitative data were collected through semi-structured interviews with 37 racially diverse, aged 50 and above women, who have received mammography screening within the past two years. The interviews were conducted at either the Singapore Cancer Society Clinic or participant’s home. Results: Although cancer information scanning was more prevalent than information seeking (91.9% vs. 62.2%), those who purposively seek information exhibited a higher knowledge level of breast cancer. The most commonly cited sources for information scanning were friends, television and family, and for information seeking were the Internet, pamphlets from a healthcare organisation/ public authority, and healthcare providers. Singapore women were well-informed about the benefits of mammogram; however, specific knowledge, such as modifiable risk factors, reasons for different screening options and the trade-off between harm and benefit, was still lacking which led to confusion about screening. Conclusion: Breast cancer health educational materials should provide clear and balanced information to give women a more accurate or realistic expectation about mammography screening. Study findings provide important implications for breast cancer education and programs to move beyond simply raising awareness and craft specific informative messages addressing the needs of the target group.  


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