Perceptions of breast and cervical cancer risk and screening among Dominicans and Puerto Ricans in Rhode Island

Ethn Dis. 2004 Winter;14(1):32-42.


This study explored perceptions of cancer, risk, and screening among Dominicans and Puerto Ricans in Rhode Island. Qualitative interviews were conducted with a community-based sample of 147 adults. Perceived risks for breast cancer were predominantly associated with carelessness about health care, trauma to the breast, and breastfeeding. Cervical cancer risks were mostly attributed to carelessness about health care and sexual behaviors. A strong sense of fatalism and embarrassment coexisted with positive beliefs about check-ups and screening. Participants cited confianza (trust, confidence) in their doctor, and their doctor's provision of information and explanations, as important factors in decreasing embarrassment and increasing their likelihood of getting screened. While familiarity with mammography and Pap testing was great among participants, many did not practice sustained, regular screening, and held misconceptions about tests and screening guidelines. Respondents' perceptions of having sufficient information often did not correspond to their having the accurate information necessary to promote informed screening decisions.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / ethnology*
  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine / psychology
  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine / statistics & numerical data*
  • Dominican Republic / ethnology
  • Female
  • Health Behavior / ethnology
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Hispanic or Latino / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Mammography / psychology
  • Mammography / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / ethnology*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology
  • Puerto Rico / ethnology
  • Rhode Island
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / ethnology*
  • Vaginal Smears / psychology
  • Vaginal Smears / statistics & numerical data
  • Women's Health / ethnology