Assessing Knowledge and Perceptions About Cancer Among American Indians of the Zuni Pueblo, NM

J Cancer Educ. 2022 Dec;37(6):1752-1759. doi: 10.1007/s13187-021-02023-0. Epub 2021 May 7.


American Indians (AIs) in New Mexico have lower cancer screening rates compared to other populations and are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer at an advanced stage of the disease as reported by Li et al. (Archives of Internal Medicine 163(1):49-56, 2003). AIs also have the lowest 5-year cancer survival rates compared to any ethnic/racial group in the USA as reported by Clegg et al. (Arch Intern Med 162:1985-1993, 2002) and Edwards et al. (Cancer 97:1407-1427, 2005). Numerous barriers such as cultural beliefs, fear, fatalism, mistrust, stigma, and lack of culturally appropriate interventions could contribute to low cancer screening rates as reported by Daley et al. (J Health Dispar Res Pract 5(2), 2012); Filippi et al. (J Prim Care Community Health 4(3):160-166, 2013); James et al. (Prev Chronic Dis 10:E170, 2013); and Schumacher et al. (Cancer Causes Control 19(7):725-737, 2008). Trained Community Health Representatives (CHRs) from the Zuni Pueblo and native Zuni undergraduate students led six 1-h focus group sessions using a structured focus group guide with probes. The focus groups were conducted among 51 participants from different age groups (20-29 years, n = 19; 30-49 years, n = 17; and 50 years and older, n = 15) stratified by sex. Focus groups were conducted in both English and Shiwi (Zuni) languages. Sessions were audio recorded, and team members took notes. CHRs transcribed the notes and audio recordings, and created a codebook for qualitative data analysis. In the focus groups, participants provided Zuni-specific cultural context, opinion, and experience regarding (1) general knowledge about cancer, (2) cancer risk, (3) cancer risk reduction, (4) personal experiences with cancer, and (5) culturally competent delivery of cancer information and resources. Understanding the perceptions of cancer within the Zuni Pueblo is an essential component in the development of interventional/preventative measures and improvement of current care. Ultimately, this information will provide a basis for the next steps in culturally sensitive cancer care for the Zuni Pueblo.

Keywords: American Indians; Cancer knowledge; Cancer perception; Community Health Representatives.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • American Indian or Alaska Native
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American*
  • Language
  • Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms* / prevention & control
  • Young Adult