Gender matters: health beliefs of women as a predictor of participation in prostate cancer screening among African American men

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Studies comparing African and European American men indicate that, when barriers to prostate cancer screening are removed, mortality and morbidity rates from prostate cancer equalise. The purpose of this study was to determine first whether cultural influences affect African American men's decisions to participate in prostate cancer screening, and secondly the health beliefs of African American and white women regarding prostate cancer risks for the men in their family.

A total of 83 African and European American men and women with a mean age of 56.5 years were recruited at two community health fairs in the Detroit area. Data were collected using an adaptation of the health belief scale developed for use in prostate cancer screening. All decisions about the statistical significance of the findings were made using a criterion alpha level of 0.05. The results indicated that negative health beliefs differed between men and women regardless of ethnicity (F (1, 112) = 18.31, P < 0.001). Women (M = 2.91, SD = 1.04) had higher scores than men (M = 1.97, SD = 0.97), indicating that they were more likely to perceive that negative health beliefs were one of the reasons why men in their family did not seek prostate cancer screening. The reasons reported in the literature regarding the reluctance of African American men to participate in prostate cancer screening were not fully supported by the findings of this study. The results indicate that prostate cancer screening may be subject to problems of access to healthcare and health education, as opposed to cultural influences.

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