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Comparison Between African-American and White Women in Their Beliefs About Breast Cancer and Their Health Locus of Control

Barroso, Julie Ph.D., A.N.P., C.S.; McMillan, Susan Ph.D., A.R.N.P., F.A.A.N.; Casey, Linda M.S., A.R.N.P.; Gibson, Wanda M.S., R.N.; Kaminski, Glenda M.S., R.N., A.O.C.N.; Meyer, Julie M.P.H., A.R.N.P.

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The purpose of this study was to examine the health beliefs of African-American and white women about breast cancer and locus of control, using the health belief model and the health locus of control construct. The Health Screening Questionnaire, developed by Sugarek, Deyo, and Holmes, was used to collect self-report data about health beliefs related to breast cancer and health locus of control. Participants included 197 white and 152 African-American women, between the ages of 19 and 93, recruited from various settings in central Florida. Significant differences were found between the two groups on all of the health beliefs about cancer items. The African-American women were significantly more likely to believe in chance, or to depend on powerful others for their health. Perceived susceptibility to cancer, doubts about the value of early diagnosis, and beliefs about the seriousness of breast cancer all were significantly associated with powerful other scores among African-American women. There was no relation between health beliefs and years of education for African-American women, but for white women, those with the least education were more likely to believe that death was inevitable with a cancer diagnosis. These results add to the information needed for the development of effective programs aimed at increasing breast cancer screening among African-American women.

Julie Barroso is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Adult & Geriatric Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing.

Susan McMillan is the American Cancer Society Professor of Oncology Nursing at the University of South Florida College of Nursing.

Linda Casey is a Radiation Oncology Nurse Practitioner at James A. Haley Veterans Administration Hospital.

Wanda Gibson is an Oncology Nurse Manager at James A. Haley Veterans Administration Hospital.

Glenda Kaminski is an Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist at Lakeland Regional Medical Center.

Julie Meyer is an Oncology Nurse Practitioner at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Julie Barroso, Department of Adult and Geriatric Health, School of Nursing, Carrington Hall, CB #7460, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7460; e-mail: julie_barroso@unc.edu

Accepted for publication January 14, 2000.

© 2000 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.