Open Access Open Badges Research article

Motivations and reasons for women attending a Breast Self-Examination training program: A qualitative study

Rea-Jeng Yang1, Lian-Hua Huang2, Yeu-Sheng Hsieh3, Ue-Lin Chung1, Chiun-Sheng Huang4 and Herng-Dar Bih5*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Nursing, National Taipei University of Nursing and Health, 365, Mind Te Road Taipei 112, Taiwan

2 School of Nursing, National Taiwan University, 1, Sec. 1, Jen-Ai, Road, Taipei 100, Taiwan

3 Department of Agricultural Extension, National Taiwan University, 1 Sec. 4, Roosevelt Road Taipei 106, Taiwan

4 National Taiwan University Hospital and National Taiwan University College of Medicine, 1, Sec. 1, Jen-Ai, Road, Taipei 100, Taiwan

5 Graduate Institute of Building and Planning, National Taiwan University, 1 Sec. 4, Roosevelt Road Taipei 106, Taiwan

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BMC Women's Health 2010, 10:23  doi:10.1186/1472-6874-10-23

Published: 10 July 2010



Breast cancer is a major threat to Taiwanese women's health. Despite the controversy surrounding the effectiveness of breast self-examination (BSE) in reducing mortality, BSE is still advocated by some health departments. The aim of the study is to provide information about how women decide to practice BSE and their experiences through the training process. Sixty-six women aged 27-50 were recruited.


A descriptive study was conducted using small group and individual in-depth interviews to collect data, and using thematic analysis and constant comparison techniques for data analysis.


It was found that a sense of self-security became an important motivator for entering BSE training. The satisfaction in obtaining a sense of self-security emerged as the central theme. Furthermore, a ladder motivation model was developed to explain the participants' motivations for entering BSE training. The patterns of motivation include opportunity taking, clarifying confusion, maintaining health, and illness monitoring, which were connected with the risk perception for breast cancer.


We recognize that the way women decide to attend BSE training is influenced by personal and social factors. Understanding the different risk assessments women rely on in making their health decisions is essential. This study will assist researchers and health professionals to gain a better understanding of alternative ways to deal with breast health, and not to be limited by the recommendations of the health authorities.