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A mixed methods, community‐based investigation on women's cancer awareness in Haiti

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Despite a high number of cases, the awareness of breast and cervical cancer in Haiti and other low and middle‐income countries (LMICs) remains relatively unknown. The objective of the research was to understand perceptions and attitudes towards breast and cervical cancer in Haiti through community‐engaged research. We report Haitians perceptions of breast and cervical cancer symptoms, diagnosis, complications, treatment, community support and access to medical services. Five non‐governmental Haitian organisations performed a large survey across the country of Haiti in 2015. The survey and focus groups addressed demographics, reported knowledge of women's cancer, infrastructural issues and barriers to care, communication and media channels. The mixed quantitative and qualitative surveys with open‐ and closed‐ended questions were administered to 414 participants aged 13–65 (75% of whom were women). A separate, smaller survey on community support and gender‐based violence was conducted in 50 breast cancer patients and survivors as well. The quantitative data indicate low levels of knowledge about cancer across all geographic regions of the country amongst men and women. After coding participants' qualitative responses as “accurate” or “not accurate”, we determined the percentage of accurate responses related to knowledge. Data are reported broken down by geographic region, education, economic status and sex. Approximately one in five respondents reported knowing how a woman contracts breast or cervical cancer. Only 30% reported to know complications of breast cancer and 22% the complications of cervical cancer. When asked if they knew where to get a test for breast cancer, 20% said yes and 33% said they knew where to get a test for cervical cancer. The wealthiest and best educated generally had the most knowledge, but the poorest consistently had the second best. Forty percent of cancer patients reported to be victims of on‐going gender‐based violence. Further investigation should be undertaken examining the role of gender‐based violence and to address the knowledge of the working poor.
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Keywords: Haiti; breast cancer; cancer awareness; cervical cancer

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2019

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