Objectives: To examine the relationship between health beliefs and participation in breast cancer screening among Arab women in Israel.
Methods: A random sample of 568 Arab women, aged 20-60, belonging to three religious groups, Muslim, Christian, and Druze, was recruited. Participants answered a telephone questionnaire regarding attendance for mammography screening and clinical breast examination (CBE) and health beliefs.
Results: Christian women had undergone more mammography screening and CBE than Druze and Muslim women. They perceived more benefits and fewer barriers to screening practices and had greater perception of the severity of breast cancer. Perception of susceptibility was similar across groups. The barriers that were significant for the Druze and Muslim women were feelings of discomfort and embarrassment, the belief that there was no cure in the case of a positive finding, perceiving mammography as hazardous to health, and perceiving CBE as painful. Logistic regression revealed that age, group, and having a first-degree relative with breast cancer predicted participation in early detection screening. Physician's recommendation predicted mammography, and level of participants' religiosity predicted CBE.
Conclusions: Diversity in health beliefs and behaviors exists in religious subgroups. Health communications should be modified to suit women in different groups in order to increase participation in screening. In addition, physicians have to be made keenly aware of their pivotal role in motivating women to participate in early detection screening.