Sociocultural Influences on Arab Women’s Participation in Breast Cancer Screening in Qatar

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Breast cancer, the most common cancer among Arab women in Qatar, significantly affects the morbidity and mortality of Arab women largely because of low participation rates in breast cancer screening. We used a critical ethnographic approach to uncover and describe factors that influence Arab women’s breast cancer screening practices. We conducted semistructured interviews with 15 health care practitioners in Qatar. Through thematic analysis of the data, we found three major factors influencing breast cancer screening practices: (a) beliefs, attitudes, and practices regarding women’s bodies, health, and illness; (b) religious beliefs and a culturally sensitive health care structure; and (c) culturally specific gender relations and roles. Arab women’s health practices cannot be understood in isolation from the sociocultural environment. The problem of low rates of breast cancer screening practices and supportive interventions must be addressed within the context and not be limited to the individual.

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