The role of explanatory models of breast cancer in breast cancer prevention behaviors among Arab-Israeli physicians and laywomen

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Background: 'Explanatory Models' (EMs) are frameworks through which individuals and groups understand diseases, are influenced by cultural and religious perceptions of health and illness, and influence both physicians and patients' behaviors. Aims: To examine the role of EMs of illness (cancer-related perceptions) in physicians' and laywomen's behaviors (decision to recommend undergoing regular mammography, adhering to mammography) in the context of a traditional-religious society, that is, the Arab society in Israel. Methods: Two combined samples were drawn: a representative sample of 146 Arab physicians who serve the Arab population and a sample composed of 290 Arab women, aged 50-70 years, representative of the main Arab groups residing in the north and center of Israel (Muslims, Christians) were each randomly sampled (cluster sampling). All respondents completed a closed-ended questionnaire. Results: Women held more cultural cancer-related beliefs and fatalistic beliefs than physicians. Physicians attributed more access barriers to screening as well as fear of radiation to women patients and lower social barriers to screening, compared with the women's community sample. Higher fatalistic beliefs among women hindered the probability of adherence to mammography; physicians with higher fatalistic beliefs were less likely to recommend mammography. Conclusions: The role of cultural perceptions needs to be particularly emphasized. In addition to understanding the patients' perceptions of illness, physicians must also reflect on the social, cultural, and psychological factors that shape their decision to recommend undergoing regular mammography.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere48
JournalPrimary Health Care Research and Development
StatePublished - 3 Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020.


  • adherence
  • cancer-related perceptions
  • explanatory models
  • mammography
  • physicians' recommendations
  • screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Care Planning


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