Social Construction of Cervical Cancer Screening among Panamanian Women
Authors: Calvo, Arlene; Brown, Kelli McCormack; McDermott, Robert J.; Bryant, Carol A.; Coreil, Jeanine; Loseke, Donileen
Source: American Journal of Health Education, 1 May 2012, vol. 43, no. 3, pp. 153-163(11)
Abstract:Background: Understanding how “health issues” are socially constructed may be useful for creating culturally relevant programs for Hispanic/Latino populations. Purpose: We explored the constructed meanings of cervical cancer and cervical cancer screening among Panamanian women, as well as socio-cultural factors that deter or encourage screening services. Women in this age group have the highest rate of HPV in Panama, placing them at elevated risk for cervical cancer. Methods: Using a social construction approach, four qualitative research techniques were employed to assess the meaning of cervical cancer in the lives of 132 Panamanian women between 20 and 40 years of age. Results: Emergent themes included the importance of religion and family, the relationship between sexuality and health, influence of media, and the influence of husbands and of other women in helping to construct screening knowledge. Also, the generalized belief that cancer signifies death was clear. Discussion: Cervical cancer and cancer screening arouse fears, embarrassment, and shame that serve as barriers to screening and impede better screening rates and earlier diagnosis of disease. Cervical cancer screening guidelines are not promoted causing lack of awareness. Translation to Health Education Practice: Culturally relevant health education interventions and programs delivered in a participatory group format at the community level may be effective in reaching Panamanian women. Women themselves may be good resources for identifying appropriate health education messages, interventions and delivery modes.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: May 1, 2012