Psychosocial determinants of colorectal Cancer screening uptake among African-American men: understanding the role of masculine role norms, medical mistrust, and normative support

Ethn Health. 2022 Jul;27(5):1103-1122. doi: 10.1080/13557858.2020.1849569. Epub 2020 Nov 29.


Objectives: Despite having the highest colorectal cancer (CRC) incidence and mortality across all major racial/ethnic groups, African-American men consistently have poor CRC screening rates. Gendered and racialized beliefs and norms have been associated with African-American men's lower medical assistance-seeking rates, but how these notions influence African-American men's CRC screening practices merits further investigation. The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of psychosocial determinants of men's health on CRC screening uptake among African-American men in three states.

Design: Participants were recruited via and through culturally-tailored flyers, newspaper ads, and snowball sampling, among other methods. From April 2019-August 2019, 11 focus groups were conducted with English-speaking Black/African-American men who (a) were between ages 45-75, (b) were born in the United States, (c) had a working telephone, and (d) lived in Minnesota, Ohio, or Utah. Multiple-cycle coding, Hatch's 9-step approach, and constant comparative data analysis was employed for de-identified transcript data.

Results: Eighty-four African-American men met inclusion criteria and participated. Their mean age was 59.34 ± 7.43. In regards to CRC screening status, Ohio had the most previously screened participants (85%), followed by Minnesota (84%) and Utah (76%). Two major CRC screening barriers (masculine role norms and medical mistrust) - both encompassed 3-5 subthemes, and one major facilitator (normative support from family members or social networks) emerged.

Conclusions: Despite CRC screening's life-saving potential, African-American men have had the lowest 5-year relative survival for more than 40 years. When developing interventions and health promotion programs aiming to eliminate the racial disparity in CRC outcomes, addressing both masculine role norms and medical mistrust barriers to CRC screening completion among African-American men is warranted.

Keywords: Colorectal neoplasms; health status disparities; men’s health; men’s health equity; mistrust in institutions; social determinants of health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Black or African American / psychology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / prevention & control
  • Early Detection of Cancer* / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Men's Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Trust
  • United States