Background: With limited government‐sponsored breast screening programmes in developing countries, breast awareness remains the only realistic survival hope for millions. Poor levels of knowledge and preventive practices remain in these countries, and early enlightenment to empower teenage high school girls has been advocated for, recently. This study evaluates ways to ensure sustainability for such an approach.
Method: A 6‐month longitudinal, interventional cohort study of 432 high school female students in South‐eastern Nigeria. The efficacies of a video‐assisted face‐to‐face intervention, as well as the use of printed handouts, were evaluated.
Results: A total of 317 (73.4%) and 301 (69.7%) valid responses were received from the pre‐intervention (16.8 ± 1.5 years) and post‐intervention (17.2 ± 1.6 years) surveys, respectively. Logistic regression revealed that participants who were “engaged” with the campaigns, either through symposium attendance or by reading handouts, showed significant improvements on most aspects of knowledge regarding the cancer's early symptoms and risk factors, as well as breast self‐examination (BSE). However, the monthly practice of BSE was not significantly increased (Attendees: OR = 1.44, P = 0.18; Handout‐readers: OR = 1.52; P = 0.17). Also, when “engagement” to the respective empowerment activities was disregarded, a chi‐squared analysis comparing the pre‐intervention and post‐intervention groups showed significant improvements on specific knowledge regarding risk factors and early symptoms of breast cancer, as well as BSE techniques and regular monthly practice: χ2(1, N = 596) = 46.703, P < 0.001.Across multiple parameters, the impact of exclusive face‐to‐face participation was not different to that from the reading of handouts.
Conclusion: Face‐to‐face and handout were both effective and of similar impact. However, sustained impact on monthly BSE is doubtful. To surmount this, strategies to ensure ongoing engagements are vital. Perhaps adjusting existing high school curricula to allow repeated yearly teachings on breast cancer and BSE, along with in‐built‐in evaluation systems like examinations and quizzes, are ways of ensuring engagement.