Using cultural beliefs and patterns to improve mammography utilization among African-American women: the Witness Project

J Natl Med Assoc. 2000 Mar;92(3):136-42.


Breast cancer and early detection of the disease is a significant issue for all women. Moreover, the sociocultural implications in the differential mortality rates increased interest in possible barriers to screening practices. Recently, a number of studies have investigated African Americans' cultural beliefs associated with breast cancer. This study is based upon qualitative focus group data gathered from 1989 to 1991 and 1996. This article provides focus group data that informed a culturally competent community-based cancer education program for African-American women--the Witness Project. Analysis of the qualitative data along with the quantitative outcome data revealed a direct relationship between cultural beliefs and patterns with mammography utilization. The once perceived cultural barriers can actually be applied as a cultural intervention strategy to improve breast cancer screening initiatives designed specifically for African-American women.

MeSH terms

  • African Americans / psychology*
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cultural Characteristics*
  • Female
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Mammography / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Minority Groups / psychology*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Retrospective Studies