From Community Laywomen to Breast Health Workers: A Pilot Training Model to Implement Clinical Breast Exam Screening in Malawi.

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Citation Stats

Attention Stats


BACKGROUND:Breast cancer burden is high in low-income countries. Inadequate early detection contributes to late diagnosis and increased mortality. We describe the training program for Malawi's first clinical breast exam (CBE) screening effort. METHODS:Laywomen were recruited as Breast Health Workers (BHWs) with the help of local staff and breast cancer advocates. The four-week training consisted of lectures, online modules, role-playing, case discussions, CBE using simulators and patients, and practice presentations. Ministry of Health trainers taught health communication, promotion, and education skills. Breast cancer survivors shared their experiences. Clinicians taught breast cancer epidemiology, prevention, detection, and clinical care. Clinicians and research staff taught research ethics, informed consent, data collection, and professionalism. Breast cancer knowledge was measured using pre- and post-training surveys. Concordance between BHW and clinician CBE was assessed. Breast cancer talks by BHW were evaluated on a 5-point scale in 22 areas by 3 judges. RESULTS:We interviewed 12 women, and 4 were selected as BHWs including 1 breast cancer survivor. Training was dynamic with modification based on trainee response and progress. A higher-than-anticipated level of comprehension and interest led to inclusion of additional topics like breast reconstruction. Pre-training knowledge increased from 49% to 91% correct (p<0.0001). Clinician and BHW CBE had 88% concordance (kappa 0.43). The mean rating of BHW educational talks was 4.4 (standard deviation 0.7). CONCLUSIONS:Malawian laywomen successfully completed training and demonstrated competency to conduct CBE and deliver breast cancer educational talks. Knowledge increased after training, and concordance was high between BHW and clinician CBE.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Gutnik, Lily, Agnes Moses, Christopher Stanley, Tapiwa Tembo, Clara Lee and Satish Gopal (2016). From Community Laywomen to Breast Health Workers: A Pilot Training Model to Implement Clinical Breast Exam Screening in Malawi. PloS one, 11(3). p. e0151389. 10.1371/journal.pone.0151389 Retrieved from

This is constructed from limited available data and may be imprecise. To cite this article, please review & use the official citation provided by the journal.

Unless otherwise indicated, scholarly articles published by Duke faculty members are made available here with a CC-BY-NC (Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial) license, as enabled by the Duke Open Access Policy. If you wish to use the materials in ways not already permitted under CC-BY-NC, please consult the copyright owner. Other materials are made available here through the author’s grant of a non-exclusive license to make their work openly accessible.