Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Mass Communications

Major Professor

Janelle Applequist, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Travis R. Bell, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ambar Basu, Ph.D.


breast cancer awareness, health beliefs, health communications, screening behaviors


Breast cancer (BC) is the most fatal cancer in India and has affected more than 1.3 million people in the year 2020 alone, making it a national public health priority. The reason for this alarming increase in BC incidences and mortality rates stems from a severe lack of awareness and the absence of targeted interventions. Considering the absence of a national level breast cancer awareness program, the following study sought to understand Indian women’s preconceived notions about the disease and the available screening methods to contribute to future mass communication campaigns in India. The study used a pre-designed interview guide drafted using the socio-cognitive framework of Health Belief Model (HBM) to conduct 15 semi-structured interviews to understand these notions, namely the perceived threat of BC, the perceived benefits and barriers of engaging in BC screening – breast self-examination (BSE), clinical breast examination (CBE), and mammograms. The interviews also sought to understand Indian women’s preferences on how they would like to be communicated to about breast cancer screening methods. The interviews revealed that there is an overall lack of awareness of risk factors of BC and the existing screening methods. Participants’ lack of awareness led them to develop an optimistic bias about the disease. Moreover, while participants enjoyed the convenience of engaging in BSE, there were multiple factors in their daily and social lives acting as barricades to screening. This study proposed that a well-rounded approach to mass communications is much needed in effectively addressing the lack of awareness. Using visual and audio channels of cinema, social media, and print media, Indian women can be communicated to about the importance of screening. However, participants trusted their medical practitioners and mothers to be the bearers of breast health-related information. The study concludes by proposing that mass communications should consider a wide range of target audiences; that is, besides the general population, the audience should also include medical practitioners and parents. A multi-level and integrated approach to designing mass communications is needed to effectively influence uptake in BC screening services.