Health beliefs about testicular cancer and testicular self-examination in adult men in professional occupations
Blesch, Karen Smith
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In recent years testicular self-examination (TSE) has been promoted as an effective means of detecting testicular tumors early, thus improving chances for successful treatment. Epidemiologic studies have identified three demographic risk factors for testicular cancer, besides the well-known factor of undescended testis. They include being between the ages of 15 and 40, being white, and being in a professional occupation. For this descriptive, exploratory study, a random sample of 235 men was chosen from a population of over 3,000 that consists largely of men meeting these three criteria. The study was based on the Health Belief -Model which predicts the likelihood of practicing a preventive health behavior such as TSE based on perceived benefits of and barriers to the behavior, and perceived threat of the disease being prevented (testicular cancer). Perceived threat is composed of perceived susceptibility to and perceived seriousness of the disease. Knowledge plays a lesser role in predicting likelihood of practice. A health beliefs survey was sent to each subject in order to determine knowledge of testicular cancer and TSE, level of TSE practice, perceived benefits of and barriers to TSE, and perceived seriousness of and susceptibility to testicular cancer in this demographically at risk population. Mean scores for barriers, benefits, susceptibility, and seriousness were calculated, and specific barriers and benefits identified. Data analysis showed that 61% of the sample had heard of testicular cancer and 31% had heard of TSE. Only 9.5% of the sample indicated regular or occasional TSE practice. Perceived benefits of TSE far outweigh perceived barriers both in absolute numbers of specific items and in mean benefits and barriers scores. Practicers of TSE had significantly lower mean barriers scores and significantly higher mean susceptibility scores than non-practicers, thus supporting these elements of the Health Belief Model. Men with undescended testis had significantly higher mean susceptibility and severity (threat) scores than those without.