Between traditional and modern perceptions of breast and cervical cancer screenings: A qualitative study of Arab women in Israel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Arab women have undergone major modernization processes in recent years and the effect of these processes on attitudes to screening should be examined. Fifty-one Israeli Arab women participated in focus groups in five representative communities. The women expressed a combination of traditional beliefs and modern biomedical knowledge concerning risk and preventive factors related to cancer. Special importance was given to birth and breast-feeding as protective factors, integrating modern views with traditional concepts of motherhood as a woman's principal role in society. A major theme on who or what was responsible for one's health emerged, opinions ranging across fate and God's will, physicians and health services, or, as a substantial number of participants asserted, taking personal responsibility for one's health. A related theme that emerged was the perception of cancer as either a punishment or as a test devised by God. Fears of stigma related to breast or gynecological examinations, worries about the spouse's reaction once a lump is detected, and worries regarding the violation of religious and cultural requirements of modesty, were expressed. However, there was firm agreement that although these created emotional difficulties, they were not sufficiently important to cause women to forgo screenings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-41
Number of pages8
JournalPsycho-Oncology
Volume17
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2008

Keywords

  • Arab women
  • Breast and cervical cancer
  • Culture
  • Psycho-oncology
  • Screenings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Oncology

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