Research & Insights

What Women Want: Young women use their phones for information on breast cancer prevention

A multi-media approach – including text messages and apps – is best for educating young women about breast cancer prevention, according to a study out of New Mexico State University.

Writing in the April 2014 issue of the Journal of Community health, researchers Cynthia Kratzke, Aunp Amatya and Hugo Vilchis say, “The Internet [is] a frequently acquired breast cancer prevention information source and apps and text messages [are] desired sources among college women.”

For their study, the researchers asked 546 college women about how they receive information about breast cancer prevention. Questions explored how much information participants had gotten about breast cancer from mass media, such as “TV, radio, magazines, newspapers, and Internet,” and whether participants had ever searched for information online (“have you ever looked for breast cancer prevention information on the Internet?”). Participants were also asked whether they were interested in a free breast cancer screening app and breast cancer prevention text messages and whether they had ever given information about breast cancer to their mothers.

The researchers found that while college women receive information about breast cancer from traditional media sources like television and radio, many were also searching for information about breast cancer online. The researchers found that 44.2 percent had actively sought out information on breast cancer prevention online, and more than half were interested in breast cancer prevention apps and text messages. Hispanic women and women who were looking for information about breast cancer prevention online were particularly interested in the app.

“Health communication is changing rapidly with information sources now including Internet use and mobile technologies with apps and text message capabilities,” the researchers note. “Breast cancer prevention programs would benefit by using a multi-media approach to reach young women. Traditional mass media channels (television, magazines, or radio) and small media (brochures, posters, or flyers) will continue to be used by all age groups…However, young adults also prefer to use the Internet for online health information-seeking.”

Interestingly, women who sought information about breast cancer prevention online were also more likely to share that information with their mothers than women who didn’t look for it. This means that young women may be an important vector for getting information about breast cancer to older women. “College women may learn and reinforce online information with their mothers regarding the importance of prevention and early detection with age-appropriate screenings,” the researchers explain. “Information targeting young women may also be given to mothers about healthy lifestyles.”

Journal of Community Health

Cynthia Kratzke, Aunp Amatya, and Hugo Vilchis, New Mexico State University

Posted: October 8, 2015
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