Exploring Breast Health Perceptions, Behaviors, and Social Cohesion among Ethnically Diverse Black Women

Sheila Y McKinney, Florida International University


Purpose Study explored the relationships of ethnic identity, culture, and social cohesion to mammography, cancer screening, and preventive medical visits among African-American and Afro-Caribbean women in Broward County, FL. Purpose was to understand non-compliance to screening recommendations for breast cancer among disadvantaged Black women in an area of high prevalence. Methods: A bounded convenience sample of 117 women (49% African-American and 51% Afro-Caribbean) completed a cross-sectional survey and a subset (n=87) participated in semi-structured discussion groups. Both measured perceptions related to breast cancer, defined ethnic identity or culture, and suggested social and cultural factors influence of ethnic identity, culture, and social cohesion on participation with mammograms and preventive medical care visits. Survey included the Multi-Group Ethnic Identity Measure (MEIM) and Other-Group Orientation Scale (OGO) for ethnic identity and the Risk Behavior Diagnosis Scale for cancer perceptions. Methods were bivariate, Mann-Whitney U, linear, and logistic regression. Results: Half of participants (51%) self-identified as Caribbean. OGO was positively associated with overall attitudes (p< 0.01), perceived urgency (p = 0.05), and perceived benefit related to breast cancer. Linear regression indicated that Afro-Caribbean women (referent) would perceive less urgency to screen (p = 0.05) and lower risk for breast cancer (p = 0.03) than African-American women. Participants explained that personal and neighborhood cultural norms along with health perceptions along with structural factors connected to access and use of medical services influence Black women’s participation in preventive medical services and cancer screening. Conclusions: Ethnic identity was associated with women’s perceptions of risk, urgency, and benefit for breast cancer screenings. These perceptions may have had a greater influence on the decisions of Afro-Caribbean women not to comply with screening recommendations or participate in preventive medical care actives than for African-American women. Compliance was also mediated by cultural perceptions of fear, relevance, motivation, and sense of support along with other structural factors. All had contributed to the varying degrees that Black women had sought medical care in this community. Thus, tailoring health interventions to account for variations in within-group characteristics is warranted. [This research was supported in part by NIH/NIGMS R25 GM061347.]

Subject Area

African American Studies|Womens studies|Public Health Education|Medicine|Public health

Recommended Citation

McKinney, Sheila Y, "Exploring Breast Health Perceptions, Behaviors, and Social Cohesion among Ethnically Diverse Black Women" (2017). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI10747923.