Breast cancer related perceptions and practices of health professionals working in Brazil's network of primary care units

Benjamin D. Hallowell, Douglas M. Puricelli Perin, Eduardo J. Simoes, Diana C. Paez, Diana C. Parra, Ross C. Brownson, Mona Saraiya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


In 2004 the Brazilian National Cancer Institute (INCA) established breast cancer screening guidelines for women in Brazil: annual clinical breast exam for women age 40–49 and biennial mammogram for women age 50–69. Healthcare provider's adherence to these guidelines is currently unknown. The objective of this study is to describe the perceptions and practices related to breast cancer screening among physicians, nurses, and health unit coordinators working in the network of primary healthcare units (HCUs) in Brazil. In 2011, 1600 primary HCUs were randomly sampled from all regions in Brazil. At each HCU the coordinator and one health professional were asked to participate in a telephone survey to gathered information on their knowledge, attitudes, and practices related to breast cancer screening. Participation rates for coordinators, physicians, and nurses were 78%, 34%, and 65% respectively. Health unit coordinators identified numerous barriers that prevent patients from receiving appropriate screening, many (44%) were unaware of INCA cancer screening guidelines. Despite a high perceived impact of INCA guidelines, a majority of physicians and nurses did not follow them. Most physicians and nurses recommended mammograms on an annual basis (~ 75%) and 50.9% of nurses and 25.1% of physicians initiated routine breast cancer screening in women under age 40. Physicians and nurses in Brazil screen at younger ages and more frequently than recommended by INCA guidelines. Given that primary HCUs are the source of health care for many women, interventions that educate healthcare providers on the appropriate ages and intervals for breast cancer screening may prove useful.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-223
Number of pages8
JournalPreventive Medicine
StatePublished - Jan 2018


  • Brazil
  • Breast
  • Breast cancer
  • Breast cancer screening
  • Cancer screening
  • Clinical breast exam
  • Mammography
  • Nurse
  • Physician


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