Knowledge, Attitudes, Beliefs, and Practices Regarding Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening in Selected Ethnocultural Groups in Northwestern Ontario

Darlene Steven

Margaret Fitch

Harbhajan Dhaliwal

Rhonda Kirk-Gardner

Pat Sevean

John Jamieson

Heather Woodbeck

ONF 2004, 31(2), 305-311. DOI: 10.1188/04.ONF.305-311

Purpose/Objectives: To examine the knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and practices regarding breast and cervical cancer screening in selected ethnocultural groups (i.e., Italian, Ukranian, Finnish, and the native population) in Northwestern Ontario, Canada.

Design: Descriptive, exploratory.

Setting: Rural and urban settings in Northwestern Ontario.

Sample: 105 women aged 40 and older who were residents of Northwestern Ontario and members of selected ethnic groups, including Italian, Ukranian, Finnish, Ojibwa, and Oji-Cree.

Methods: An interview guide was designed specifically for this study to gather information regarding knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and practices about breast self-examination (BSE), clinical breast examination (CBE), mammography, and cervical cancer screening procedures. Data were obtained through face-to-face interviews (two or three hours) in English or the language spoken. Interviews in other languages were transcribed into English.

Findings: Ojibwa and Oji-Cree women were more likely than any other group to not have practiced BSE, to have refused CBE or mammogram, to not have been told how to perform BSE, to not have received written information about breast examination, and to be uncomfortable and fearful about cervical cancer screening procedures (33% refused internal examination as compared to 0-8% in the other ethnic groups). Four issues emerged from the findings: (a) using multimedia sources to inform women about screening programs, (b) educating women regarding breast and cervical cancer screening, (c) reminding women when they are due for screening, and (d) identifying that Pap tests are uncomfortable and frightening.

Conclusions: Cultural beliefs, attitudes, and practices of marginal populations (e.g., native women) are important to consider when developing strategies to address barriers to effective breast and cervical screening.

Implications for Nursing: Educational programs that are culturally sensitive to participants are imperative.

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