Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 343–351 | Cite as

Breast cancer delay in Latinas: the role of cultural beliefs and acculturation

  • Silvia Tejeda
  • Rani I. Gallardo
  • Carol Estwing Ferrans
  • Garth H. RauscherEmail author


Cultural beliefs about breast cancer may act as a barrier to Latina women seeking preventive services or timely follow-up for breast symptoms regardless of access. This study examines the association between factors and breast cancer cultural beliefs and the extent to which cultural beliefs are associated with delays in breast cancer care. Participants who were Latina, ages 30–79, and had been diagnosed with a primary breast cancer were examined (n = 181). Interviews included a 15-item cultural beliefs scale spanning beliefs inconsistent with motivation to seek timely healthcare. Self-reported date of symptom discovery, date of first medical presentation, and date of first treatment were used to construct measures of prolonged patient, clinical, and total delay. Logistic regression with model-based standardization was used to estimate crude and confounder-adjusted prevalence differences for prolonged delay by number of cultural beliefs held. Women held a mean score of three cultural beliefs. The belief most commonly held was, “Faith in God can protect you from breast cancer” (48 %). Holding three or more cultural beliefs was associated with lower acculturation, lower socioeconomic status and less access to care (p < 0.01). After adjusting for age, education, income, acculturation, trust, and insurance, likelihood of prolonged total delay remained 21 percentage points higher in women who held a higher number cultural beliefs (p = 0.02). Cultural beliefs may predispose Latina women to prolong delays in seeking diagnosis and treatment for breast symptoms. Cultural beliefs represent a potential point of intervention to decrease delays among Latina breast cancer patients.


Breast cancer Patient and clinical delay Cultural beliefs Acculturation Hispanic 



This work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health to G.H. Rauscher (1P50CA106743, 2P50CA106743). We thank the women diagnosed with breast cancer whose information was reported to the Illinois State Cancer Registry, thereby making this research possible.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Silvia Tejeda, Rani I. Gallardo, Carol Estwing Ferrans, and Garth H. Rauscher declares that they do not have any conflict of interest.

Human and animal rights and Informed consent

All procedures involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Silvia Tejeda
    • 1
  • Rani I. Gallardo
    • 2
  • Carol Estwing Ferrans
    • 3
  • Garth H. Rauscher
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.School of Public Health, Institute for Health Research and PolicyUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Department of MedicineUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA
  3. 3.Department of Biobehavioral Health Science, College of NursingUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA
  4. 4.Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public HealthUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA

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