Korean Immigrant Women's Meanings of Breast, Breast Cancer, and Breast Cancer Screenings

  • Published : 2006.06.01


Purpose. Koreans are one of the fastest growing Asian populations in the U.S. since 1960s. In Korean immigrant women (KIW), breast cancer was reported as the most frequently diagnosed cancer. However, their screening rates for breast cancer are lower than national guidelines; it is assumed that underlying cultural schemas of breast, breast cancer, and its screening modalities exist and need to be studied. This study was aimed to investigate cultural meanings of breast, breast cancer, and breast cancer screenings in KIW. Methods. Using cultural models theory from cognitive anthropology, naturalistic qualitative methodology was utilized. Three focus group interviews with fifteen KIW were conducted. Thematic analysis with constant comparison technique was performed eliciting units of meaning, categories, and themes. Results. The cultural schema of the meaning of breast is 'mother who is breast-feeding her baby,' with two themes of 'balance in size,' and 'shyness.' Regarding breast cancer, three themes, i.e., 'indifference,' 'fear,' and 'uncertainty' are emerged. 'Lack of information about screening modalities' is the overarching schema with reference to breast cancer screenings. Conclusions. The findings of this study demonstrate unique cultural models of KIW related to breast cancer and its screenings, which are critical to understand and penetrate their barriers to breast cancer screening.


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