Attitudes of South Asian Women to Breast Health and Breast Cancer Screening: Findings from a Community Based Sample in the United States

  • Poonawalla, Insiya B. (Division of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences, University of Texas School of Public Health) ;
  • Goyal, Sharad (Department of Radiation Oncology, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey) ;
  • Mehrotra, Naveen (Rutgers School of Public Health) ;
  • Allicock, Marlyn (Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, University of Texas School of Public Health) ;
  • Balasubramanian, Bijal A. (Division of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences, University of Texas School of Public Health)
  • Published : 2014.11.06


Background: Breast cancer incidence is increasing among South Asian migrants to the United States (US). However, their utilization of cancer screening services is poor. This study characterizes attitudes of South Asians towards breast health and screening in a community sample. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional survey based on the Health Belief Model (HBM) was conducted among South Asians (n=124) in New Jersey and Chicago. The following beliefs and attitudes towards breast cancer screening were assessed-health motivation, breast self-examination confidence, breast cancer susceptibility and fear, and mammogram benefits and barriers. Descriptive statistics and Spearman rank correlation coefficients were computed for HBM subscales. Findings: Mean age of participants was 36 years with an average 10 years stay in the US. Most women strived to care for their health ($3.82{\pm}1.18$) and perceived high benefits of screening mammography ($3.94{\pm}0.95$). However, they perceived lower susceptibility to breast cancer in the future ($2.30{\pm}0.94$). Conclusions: Increasing awareness of breast cancer risk for South Asian women may have a beneficial effect on cancer incidence because of their positive attitudes towards health and breast cancer screening. This is especially relevant because South Asians now constitute one of the largest minority populations in the US and their incidence of breast cancer is steadily increasing.


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