Latin American Cancer Research Coalition  


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Knowledge and Perceived Risk of Breast Cancer Among Latinas
Principal Investigator
Elizabeth Kaufman, PhD

Funded April 2002 through the Special Populations Network developmental research projects, this project utilizes a cross-sectional design to investigate the perceived risk of breast cancer, the impact of culture and acculturation on perceived risk, and the relationship between perceived risk and mammography utilization in a sample of recently immigrated Latina women ages 35 to 75.

During year 3 approximately 400 Latino women were recruited at Washington, D.C. area community health clinics participating in the LACRC. As data collection was recently completed, we are currently in the process of scoring the data. Data analyses and manuscript preparation will begin shortly. As such, results of the project will be forthcoming.

This pilot project has three-principle research aims. The first is to evaluate the perceived risk of breast cancer in a low-income, low-literacy, uninsured, limited English proficient community-based sample of Latina women using multiple methods of risk assessment. Specifically, assess absolute risk and comparative risk through numerical, descriptive, and visual analog scales. Our second research aim is to evaluate the role of cultural beliefs such as fatalism, fear of cancer diagnosis and, belief that trauma causes breast cancer. This research also aims to assess the role of acculturation on perceived risk of breast cancer. Guided by the Health Belief Model, this research hypothesized that cultural beliefs and breast cancer knowledge would predict perceived risk. More specifically, we predicted that less acculturated women would have lower perceived risk of breast cancer. Our final project aim is to determine the role of breast cancer risk perception in mammography utilization. Again, guided by the Health Belief Model, we hypothesized that perceived risk would be positively associated with mammography use. We also hypothesized that women with a family history of the disease would have elevated perceived risk and higher mammography utilization than those without a family history of the disease. Our final hypothesis was that perceived risk would mediate the relationship between acculturation, cultural beliefs, and family history with screening.

This is the first study, to our knowledge, to assess perceived breast cancer risk and its impact on mammography utilization in Latina women. The data collected in this pilot will provide the foundation for future submissions such as an RO1 or R21 designed to develop and evaluate a culturally sensitive risk-counseling program for Latinas. Overall, these data will further our understanding of how some minority populations understand their cancer risk and use this information to make screening decisions. This understanding may eventually lead to improved cancer screening and reduced mortality for this under-studied population.

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