Immigrant Arab women: knowledge, beliefs and attitudes towards breast cancer and cancer awareness practice
Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis
Background: Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women of all ethnic groups. Breast cancer awareness reduces mortality and improves survival rates, but low levels of awareness have been attributed to various factors. To date, little is known about what factors influence breast cancer awareness among immigrant Arab women in the UK. The aim of this research was to explore the knowledge, attitudes and beliefs related to breast cancer awareness practices with Arab women living in England. Methodology: A qualitatively driven mixed methods approach was adopted. The first phase used semi-structured one-to-one interviews with 10 women. The second phase comprised two focus groups with 34 women from Portsmouth and London. A quantitative approach using the Breast Cancer Awareness Measurement questionnaire was also administered to describe first and second generation women’s knowledge, perceived risk factors and barriers to seeking medical help, compare and contrast data from these two paradigms. Findings: A lack of knowledge about breast cancer awareness, among Arab women of both generations, was evident across two phases. Revealing that socio-cultural, religious beliefs and health services barriers play an important role in shaping Arab women’s experiences and practices. Comparisons across generations showed trends towards increased knowledge for second generation women, but the findings were not statistically significant except anticipated delay in seeking help (p<0.001). The second phase, focus group discussions, revealed both strengths and weakness of current breast cancer educational leaflets with suggestions to improve format, layout, content and availability. The qualitative data provided contextual data on additional barriers which were, not revealed in the B-Cam measurements and descriptors. Conclusion: Low levels of knowledge and lack of confidence among Arab women indicate a strong need to increase relevant breast cancer awareness such as mass media and community health campaigns, together with an enhanced participation of health care providers.
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