Perceptions of cancer fatalism among African Americans: the influence of education, income, and cancer knowledge

J Natl Black Nurses Assoc. Fall-Winter 1994;7(2):41-8.


African Americans have greater colorectal cancer mortality rates, yet are less likely to participate in fecal occult blood testing (FOBT). Perceptions of cancer fatalism play a pivotal role in this lack of participation. Cancer fatalism is the belief that death is inevitable when cancer is present. However, predictors of cancer fatalism have not been consistently articulated. The Powe Fatalism Model guided this descriptive, correlational study which reports on the relationship between education, income, knowledge of colorectal cancer, and cancer fatalism. Participants (N = 192) were recruited from randomly selected congregate meal sites. The majority of the sample was African American and female. African Americans had lower education, income, and knowledge of colorectal cancer. These factors were all significantly related to perceptions of cancer fatalism. Specifically, cancer fatalism increased as these factors decreased. Nursing professionals must focus on the prompt identification of fatalistic individuals based on these predictors. In addition, research must identify coping strategies for cancer fatalism.

MeSH terms

  • African Americans / psychology*
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health / ethnology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Internal-External Control*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires