African American Women's Breast Memories, Cancer Beliefs, and Screening Behaviors

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Abstract

African American women experience higher breast cancer mortality and lower survival rates compared with white women of comparable age and cancer stage. The literature is lacking in studies that address the influence of past events on current health behaviors among women of diverse cultural groups. This qualitative exploratory study used participant narratives to examine associations between women's memories and feelings concerning their breasts and current breast cancer screening behaviors. Twelve professional African American women, aged 42 to 64 years, shared stories about memories and feelings regarding their breasts. Codes grouped together with related patterns and recurrences revealed categories that encompassed the language and culture of the participants. The categories identified were Seasons of Breast Awareness, Womanhood, Self-Portraits, Breast Cancer and Cancer Beliefs, Breast Cancer Screening Experiences, and Participants' Advice for Change. These categories provide direction for further exploration of barriers to health promotion practices among African American women and women in general.

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