The American Cancer Society (1991) predicts that one out of every nine women in America will develop breast cancer. One of the recognized methods of early detection of breast cancer is breast self-examination on a regular basis. Very little research has been done to identify nurses who perform breast self-examination (BSE) or to describe those nurses. Therefore, this study was designed to explore the BSE performance of registered nurses and to describe these nurses using selected variables. The two research questions this study sought to answer were do registered nurses perform BSE and what personalogical variables are the best predictors of BSE in nurses? The conceptual framework was Orem's Theory of Self-Care in that breast self-examination was an action directed toward self in the interest of life and well-being. Variables of work setting, personal experience, professional experience, and educational preparation were measured with the Russell Demographic and Experiential Questionnaire. Performance of breast selfexamination was measured with a two-part tool by Wyper that contained multiple-choice questions about history of breast problems, confidence in doing breast self-examination, how examination techniques were learned, and steps in performing breast self-examination. For this descriptive correlational study, the sample consisted of 63 registered nurses selected randomly by zip code from the population of registered nurses currently licensed and living in Mississippi. Surveys and follow-up postcards were mailed to participants with anonymity assured. Descriptive, correlational, and multiple regression analysis of the data were performed. The majority of the 63 respondents were between 31 and 40 years old, were married, worked in direct care, and had associate degrees in nursing. Sixty-eight percent had professional experience in caring for a patient with breast disease or related oncology, and over half had personal experience of breast disease with a friend, family member, or themselves. Forty-six percent performed BSE every month. Personal experience was the one significant predictor of BSE performance. Recommendations for future research include use of this study as a pilot study for replication of the study for registered nurses nationwide. Additionally, recommendations for nursing include education at the basic level to prepare nurses as self-care agents as well as educators in health-promoting and preventive care measures.


Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)


Graduate Nursing

Degree Date


Publication Number


First Advisor

Dr. Mary Patricia Curtis

Second Advisor

Sara Akers

Third Advisor

Charlotte Powell

Document Type


Included in

Nursing Commons