Exploring beliefs about cancer among American Samoans: focus group findings

Cancer Detect Prev. 2005;29(2):109-15. doi: 10.1016/j.cdp.2004.08.007.


Objective: To evaluate answers to the following questions among American Samoans: What is cancer? What causes cancer? And what can you do to prevent cancer?

Design: Focus groups (four with women and four with men).

Settings: Pago Pago and the Manu'a islands, American Samoa; Honolulu, Hawaii; Los Angeles, California.

Participants: 80 self-reported Samoan men and women over the age of 18 years, selected through non-probability purposive sampling with help from Samoan community-based organizations.

Measurement: Qualitative content analysis of focus findings to identify themes.

Results: The concepts that cancer was not a Samoan illness, that failure to follow fa'aSamoa (the traditional Samoan way of life) could lead to cancer, and that a return to fa'aSamoa could prevent cancer were the prevalent themes in the focus groups.

Conclusion: The value that Samoans place on fa'aSamoa, a traditional healthy lifestyle, provides insights into the design of future intervention programs aimed at improving cancer control in this population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • American Samoa / ethnology
  • Attitude to Health*
  • California / ethnology
  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / ethnology
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Neoplasms / psychology*