Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The role of culture and health literacy in cancer screening practices among young, middle to upper middle-class Pakistani-American women
by Jafri, Natasha Fatima, Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University, 2011, 146; 3484373
Abstract (Summary)

Cancer rates are rising among the South Asian population and, more specifically, among South Asian American women from India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. About 1 in 9 Pakistani women will suffer from breast cancer at some point in her life. Research shows many cancer deaths could be prevented if individuals at risk were properly screened. Studies show that being situated in two different cultures may have negative health implications that may lead to low screening levels. Additionally, patient-physician communication problems that can result from a culmination of cultural, religious, and linguistic differences between Pakistani women and their physicians can affect screening practices.

This study explored the role of culture and health literacy in regard to breast cancer knowledge, attitudes, and screening behaviors, to identify key factors that may predict barriers to breast cancer screening among a sample of 12 Pakistani-American immigrant women of middle to upper middle-class.

This research utilized validated survey questionnaires, along with a semi-structured qualitative interview to elicit study participants' beliefs, health literacy levels, and health experiences and practices surrounding breast cancer screening. Interview and survey data was analyzed using a combination of descriptive statistics and an iterative open-coding process that led to the refinement of the study themes. The Segmented Assimilation Theory outlined methodologies for addressing cancer communications among this vulnerable group, based on the intersection of cultural, literacy, faith-based practices, and beliefs factors.

The most common barriers to breast screening among the study participants were: a) a strong preference for a female physician, b) modesty within religion, c) a low preference for approaching a health care provider, and d) a low health priority for breast cancer screening.

Educators and researchers will be able to further identify cross-cutting issues that currently impact breast cancer screening practices among young, middle to upper middle-class Pakistani-American women. The study's findings suggest a need for more focused, ethnic-specific cancer prevention programs for this growing minority.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Allegrante, John P.
School: Teachers College, Columbia University
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 73/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Asian American Studies, Health education, Oncology
Keywords: Asian-American, Breast cancer, Cancer screening, Early detection, Health literacy, Pakistani-American
Publication Number: 3484373
ISBN: 9781267008152
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