Prostate cancer screening behavior in men from seven ethnic groups: the fear factor

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2006 Feb;15(2):228-37. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-05-0019.


Rates of prostate cancer screening are known to vary among the major ethnic groups. However, likely variations in screening behavior among ethnic subpopulations and the likely role of psychological characteristics remain understudied. We examined differences in prostate cancer screening among samples of 44 men from each of seven ethnic groups (N = 308; U.S.-born European Americans, U.S.-born African Americans, men from the English-speaking Caribbean, Haitians, Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, and Eastern Europeans) and the associations among trait fear, emotion regulatory characteristics, and screening. As expected, there were differences in the frequency of both digital rectal exam (DRE) and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests among the groups, even when demographic factors and access were controlled. Haitian men reported fewer DRE and PSA tests than either U.S.-born European American or Dominican men, and immigrant Eastern European men reported fewer tests than U.S.-born European Americans; consistent with prior research, U.S.-born African Americans differed from U.S.-born European Americans for DRE but not PSA frequency. Second, the addition of trait fear significantly improved model fit, as did the inclusion of a quadratic, inverted U, trait fear term, even where demographics, access, and ethnicity were controlled. Trait fear did not interact with ethnicity, suggesting its effect may operate equally across groups, and adding patterns of information processing and emotion regulation to the model did not improve model fit. Overall, our data suggest that fear is among the key psychological determinants of male screening behavior and would be usefully considered in models designed to increase male screening frequency.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Digital Rectal Examination
  • Emotions*
  • Ethnicity / psychology*
  • Fear*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • New York
  • Personality
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / analysis
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / ethnology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / psychology
  • Regression Analysis


  • Prostate-Specific Antigen