Perceptions of lung cancer and smoking in an economically disadvantaged population

J Community Health. 1994 Oct;19(5):361-75. doi: 10.1007/BF02260405.


This study assessed low socioeconomic adults' perceptions of lung cancer and smoking utilizing the Health Belief Model. A random sample of 500 Ohio residents, with an annual household income of less than $18,000, responded to a 45-item telephone survey. Thirty-six percent of respondents were aware of the prevalence of lung cancer. The majority were aware that sidestream smoke and air pollution are lung cancer risk factors (72% and 79% respectively). Forty-one percent believed there was nothing people could do to decrease their risk of developing lung cancer. Thirteen percent perceived themselves as more susceptible to lung cancer than others of their same age and sex though one in five believed that low SES people were more likely to develop lung cancer than higher SES people. Twenty-five percent believed that almost everyone who develops lung cancer dies of it within five years of diagnosis. Benefits of quitting were identified as saving money (95%), feeling healthier (90%), living longer (80%), and eliminating hassles with smoking in public (79%). The most common barriers of quitting smoking were addiction (86%), habit (82%), and having friends who smoke (66%).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Demography
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ohio
  • Poverty*
  • Sampling Studies
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires