Fatalistic Beliefs About Cancer Prevention Among Older African American Men

Res Aging. 2015 Aug;37(6):606-22. doi: 10.1177/0164027514546697. Epub 2014 Aug 19.


Objectives: Evidence suggests that minority groups are more likely to exhibit fatalistic beliefs about cancer prevention (FBCP), which are defined as confusion, pessimism, and helplessness about one's ability to prevent cancer. This study examines the socioeconomic and psychosocial predictors of FBCP among older African American men (AAM).

Methods: AAM (N = 1,666) enrolled in Medicare and participating in a longitudinal study on patient navigation were surveyed. Measures included three FBCP constructs, namely demographic items and physical and mental health variables. Binary logistic regression was performed.

Results: The average participant was 73.6 years old; 76.5% felt helpless, 44.2% were confused, and 40.7% were pessimistic about the ability to prevent cancer. As education increased, so did all three FBCP. Being downhearted was predictive of confused and helpless beliefs.

Discussion: It is critical for health practitioners to understand how psychosocial and economic challenges influence beliefs that may impede cancer prevention efforts for older AAM.

Keywords: cancer; health; men; mental health; prevention.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • African Americans / psychology*
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Men's Health
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Neoplasms / psychology*