The Relationship Between Body Image, Gender, Subjective Norms, and the Decision to Undergo Preventive Mastectomy Among Arab and Jewish BRCA Carriers

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Carriers for a mutation in BRCA1/2 genes have a high, lifelong risk for developing breast cancer. Preventive mastectomy is considered an effective risk reduction surgery. Many factors might affect the decision to undergo preventive mastectomy, including culture, perceived body image after mastectomy and important others opinion.


The aim of this study is to evaluate BRCA mutation carriers’ decision to undergo preventive mastectomy and the relationship between culture, gender, body image, and the decision.


The study was a cross-sectional design where Arab and Jewish men and women were requested to imagine that they were/their spouse was a BRCA mutation carrier. The sample consisted of 200 participants, 101 Arab and 99 Jews, included 101 women and 99 men.


The results show a high intention to undergo preventive mastectomy. Being Arab and having a more positive perception of body image after the surgery were connected to more intention to undergo the surgery. Also, those who intended to choose the surgery considered more the opinions of important others.


The results point to the importance of partners’ involvement in the decision to undergo preventive mastectomy. Also, important others (relatives, friends, and health caregivers) have an impact on the decision.

Implications for Practice:

Nurses need to consider cultural aspects of patients considering a decision about whether to undergo preventive mastectomy. Understanding the important others who might influence the decision and including them in the decision process are both essential.

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