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.