An assessment of the effectiveness of knowledge of breast cancer and breast self-examination in women in Sierra Leone.
Shepherd, Joan Hannah Elizabeth Estella.
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This research is a follow up of a "Breast Week" which was organized in Freetown, Sierra Leone. The specific objective of this study was to assess the effectiveness of the knowledge and teachings given to the women who participated in this project. The unrecorded cases of breast lumps and breast cancer observed in women in Sierra Leone prompted the researcher to undertake this present study. A quantitative approach was adopted and a structured interview schedule and an observational checklist guided the data collection process. A sample size of 120 women (10%) who participated in the "breast week" was obtained through systematic sampling. The first part of the study involved assessment of the theoretical background of the research topic followed by the second phase during which the women demonstrated Breast Self-Examination to detect abnormalities of the breasts. Discussions and analysis of the findings are presented in three sections. Texts from open ended questions were categorized and explained in numerical terms as the study was quantitative in nature. The data was processed through use of SPSS and Microsoft Excel. Frequency counts were applied to the data, use of non-parametric tests on the number of women who practiced Breast Self-Examination before and after the breast week showed a statistically significant difference in the number of women now practicing BSE as a screening method for breast cancer after receiving the health education. It was found that the majority of the women linked breast cancer to the signs and symptoms associated with it and were able to describe the disease as one that kills women if not promptly detected and/or treated appropriately. Findings indicate that the majority of the women (78.3%) had previously had mmor breast problems. An assessment of the effectiveness of knowledge on breast cancer showed that these women could identify breast cancer as a disease that affects women and may cause deaths if not detected on time or treated promptly. These women were able to demonstrate to the researcher how they examine their breasts to exclude abnormalities. Three women had breast lumps detected through examination of the breasts during the breast week. Two of them had had the lumps removed and are currently on medication. One of the women who had a breast lump detected was financially constrained and could not afford the cost of surgery. The number of women who can now perform BSE increased (95.0%) after having the knowledge on breast cancer and BSE. The majority of the women (97.4%) received information on how to examine their breasts for breast cancer through the information provided during the breast week. It is thus concluded that the objectives of the breast week were met.
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