Knowledge, barriers, and motivators related to cervical cancer screening among Korean-American women. A focus group approach

Cancer Nurs. 2000 Jun;23(3):168-75. doi: 10.1097/00002820-200006000-00003.


Cervical cancer is a significant health problem for Korean-American women. It currently is the number one female cancer diagnosed among women in South Korea. Despite this fact, Korean-American women have very low rates of cervical cancer screening. The purpose of this research were to gain an understanding of Korean women's knowledge about cervical cancer, and to identify major barriers to early screening for cervical cancer and the motivators for prevention and early detection. It is hoped that the findings will guide the development of community-based cervical cancer education and screening programs for adult Korean-American women. The health belief model (HBM) provided the theoretical basis for the study. A qualitative study with eight focus groups (n = 102) was conducted using 11 questions derived from the HBM. Focus group discussions revealed that there was misinformation and a lack of knowledge about cervical cancer. The women therefore were confused about the causative factors and preventive strategies related to cervical cancer. The findings showed that major structural barriers were economic and time factors along with language problems. Many participants were recent immigrants with no medical insurance and long work hours. The main psychosocial barriers were fear/fatalism, denial, and Confucian thinking. Participants stated that medical advice and education would influence them most to undergo a Pap test. Recommendations were made to reduce certain barriers and to increase knowledge and motivations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asian Americans / psychology
  • Asian Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Korea / ethnology
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological
  • New York
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Vaginal Smears / psychology
  • Vaginal Smears / statistics & numerical data*