Lay Beliefs, Knowledge, and Attitudes Towards Cancer: a Pilot Study in Japan

  • Tsuchiya, Miyako (Graduate School of Nursing, Chiba University)
  • Published : 2015.04.29


Background: The attendance rates for cancer screening are low in Japan. Little is actually known about how the Japanese perceive cancer. Since beliefs about illness affect individuals' health care practice, the aim of this study was to explore beliefs about cancer and factors associated with those beliefs, focusing on representative cancer sites. Materials and Methods: Japanese adults (${\geq}20$ years old) who had not been diagnosed with any cancers and were not health care professionals were recruited, using a convenience sampling approach. A total of 91 participants completed questionnaires including open-ended questions. Thematic analysis was used to analyze the responses. Results: Five themes were suggested: (i) a threatening illness that might greatly change one's future life; (ii) basic cancer knowledge; (iii) a curable illness with early detection and adequate treatment; (iv) causes of cancer; and (v) anyone can develop cancer. Families or friends' negative consequences of cancer were associated with negative beliefs about the disease. Gestational cancer was the most representative site of most themes. Conclusions: A threatening illness (e.g., death or incurable illness) was the most common belief among the Japanese laypeople. Importance of early detection and treatments should be more emphasized, and future screening programs should include strategies modifying negative cancer beliefs among Japanese laypeople.


Cancer;factors;Japanese;perception;open-ended questions;thematic analysis


Supported by : Yuumi Memorial Foundation for Home Health Care


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