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Fatalistic Attitudes May Keep Hispanic Women From Cancer Tests

Fatalistic Attitudes May Keep Hispanic Women From Cancer Tests

Notion that health 'is in God's hands' could help explain low screening rates, study suggests

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Fatalism, a belief that life's events are predetermined, may be one reason why Hispanic women have some of the lowest cancer screening rates in the United States, new research suggests.

Hispanic women are much more likely than white women to believe that cancer is not preventable, and that death is inevitable in those diagnosed with cancer, the researchers found.

Karla Espinosa de los Monteros and Linda Gallo from San Diego State University reviewed 11 studies that examined the association between Hispanic women's fatalism and their screening rates for cervical, breast and colorectal cancers.

The women in the studies were asked to what extent they agreed or disagreed with statements such as "cancer is like a death sentence," "cancer is God's punishment," "illness is a matter of chance," "there is little that I can do to prevent cancer," and "it does not do any good to try to change the future because the future is in the hands of God."

Seven of the 11 studies found a statistically significant link between fatalism and reduced use of cancer screening services. Further studies are needed to learn more about this association, the authors noted.

"Improving our understanding of the importance of fatalism in explaining underutilization of cancer screening services among Latinas may drive the development of more effective and culturally appropriate interventions to reduce ethnic disparities in cancer," the study authors concluded.

The study is scheduled for publication in the online edition of the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about cancer screening (http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/screening/overview ).

SOURCE: International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, news release, Oct. 18, 2010