The Global Flow and Public Health Impact of the Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign in Austria

Kathryn Bouskill, Candidate for a PhD in Anthropology and an MPH at Emory University
Wednesday, November 12, 2014 - 4:00pm


Maginnes Hall, Room 113
Despite its ubiquity in the United States, the breast cancer awareness campaign has only within the last five years gained a presence in the Austrian cultural landscape. Yet, in Austria, grave illnesses such as cancer are traditionally kept private and out of the public eye. Drawing on ethnographic and epidemiological methods, this research first examined the public health impact for Austrian women considered 'at risk' for breast cancer and evaluated their knowledge of mammographic screening and risk. I then explore the illness experience and needs of women being treated for breast cancer to understand how their social lives interface with the changing sociocultural representations of breast cancer. 
Lastly, I examine the impact of breast cancer among long-term survivors to determine their mental, psychosocial and physical needs vis-à-vis the aims of the campaign. This aspect of the research demonstrates how the campaign overlooks the widespread belief that emotional distress over the life course can cause breast cancer. 
Support for women occupying all three positions is limited, suggesting that the corporatization, feminization, and exclusivism of women's breast health is creating an illusion of advocacy while neglecting pertinent health issues.