Older Immigrant Tamil Women and Their Doctors: Attitudes Toward Breast Cancer Screening
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Cultural beliefs have been hypothesized to be powerful barriers to breast cancer screening in minority women and physician recommendation is consistently reported to be the strongest incentive. This study investigated (1) beliefs regarding breast cancer and (2) the perception of barriers to mammography and clinical breast examination in a sample of immigrant Tamil women, as well as in a sample of primary care physicians. Three focus groups, each consisting of 10 immigrant Tamil women from Sri Lanka aged 50 years or over were conducted and 52 primary care physicians who serve this population completed mailed surveys. The most common barriers to screening reported by the women were (1) lack of understanding of the role of early detection in medical care, (2) religious beliefs and, (3) fear of social stigmatization. Physicians reported the most common barriers to their screening recommendations for this group of women to be (1) women's episodic care, (2) unrelated presenting problems and, (3) women refusing to be screened. Interventions to increase screening in this and other minority groups requires an elaborated understanding of utilization barriers for both women and their doctors.
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