, Volume 13, Issue 6, pp 1084-1089

Prioritizing Prevention: Culture, Context, and Cervical Cancer Screening among Vietnamese American Women

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Few studies have investigated what Vietnamese American women believe about the Pap smear or how those beliefs might influence behavior. Thirty-one Vietnamese American women recruited through snowball sampling were interviewed about their beliefs regarding the Pap smear. Interviews were qualitatively analyzed using a theoretically informed, inductive approach. The women interviewed emphasized the importance of primary prevention of disease through culturally-informed personal health regimens. They were also largely unfamiliar with the Pap smear, but believed that gynecological exams in general were effective and necessary for disease detection. Finally, when access to gynecological care was difficult, women’s faith in their own preventive behaviors helped alleviate their concerns over lack of care. While culturally associated beliefs do not simply “cause” Vietnamese American women to seek or avoid Pap smears, they do influence screening behaviors to a greater or lesser degree, depending on other contextual variables.