Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Kevin Larkin

Committee Co-Chair

Melissa Blank

Committee Member

Barry Edelstein

Committee Member

Kimberly Kelly

Committee Member

Julie Patrick


Whether women should practice breast self-examination (BSE) has been debated for decades. Current guidelines promote understanding how one's breasts normally look and feel through the practice of BSE or informal self-examination practices (referred to as breast awareness). This study investigated how modern women practice breast awareness behaviors, and how personal, theoretical, and psychosocial constructs influence engagement in these behaviors. Data from 626 women without a history of breast cancer were used to investigate associations between psychosocial variables (e.g., anxiety, body dissatisfaction, cancer fatalism; religious beliefs and participation) and breast awareness behaviors (BSE frequency and proficiency, frequency of checking for lumps, and frequency of examining breasts in the shower) within the framework of personal factors (e.g., age, knowledge of breast cancer risk factors) and health theories (Health Belief Model, Theory of Planned Behavior, and Extended Parallel Process Model) using hierarchical or multinomial logistic regressions. Women who practiced BSE excessively (weekly or daily) endorsed more body dissatisfaction and were less likely to engage in clinical breast exams by health care providers than women who practiced BSE at lesser frequencies (recommended, infrequent, or never). Among the broader sample, women who reported more body dissatisfaction demonstrated less proficiency at performing BSE. In comparison to infrequent BSE performers, those who endorsed more trait anxiety were more likely to perform BSE at a recommended frequency (monthly or trimonthly) or not at all. Lastly, more cancer fatalism was associated with performing BSE at a recommended frequency. None of the examined psychosocial variables predicted frequency of checking for lumps or frequency of examining breasts in the shower. Congruent with the literature, several variables associated with the Health Belief Model and Theory of Planned Behavior were also shown to be associated with breast awareness behaviors.