The Determinants of Breast Cancer Screening Behavior: A Focus Group Study of Women in the United Arab Emirates

Abdulbari Bener

Gladys Honein

Anne O. Carter

Zahra Da'ar

Campbell Miller

Earl V. Dunn

ONF 2002, 29(9), E91-E98. DOI: 10.1188/02.ONF.E91-E98

Purpose/Objectives: To explore perceptions, knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about breast cancer and its screening among Emirati national women in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates.

Design: A qualitative study using focus group methods.

Setting: Primary healthcare centers and a communitybased women's association in the United Arab Emirates.

Sample: 41 women, aged 25-45 years.

Methods: Four 90-minute focus group discussions exploring perceptions, knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and practices regarding breast cancer were audiotaped, transcribed, translated, and analyzed.

Main Research Variables: Social and cultural themes related to breast cancer and its screening.

Findings: Focus group methodology worked well in this setting. The women's perceptions, knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs regarding cancer and screening, together with aspects of the healthcare system and social milieu, appeared to strongly influence the women's preventive practices. Some of these factors had an encouraging effect on the women's practices, and others had a deterring effect. The encouraging factors included feelings of susceptibility, high levels of knowledge in some women, attitudes and beliefs about personal responsibility for health, and a supportive social milieu. Deterring factors included anxiety and fear leading to denial; lack of knowledge about cancer and the screening program; fear, embarrassment, and mistrust of health care; and belief in predestination.

Conclusions: Health planners and healthcare providers must capitalize on encouraging factors and minimize deterring factors to optimize breast cancer screening practices among these women.

Implications for Nursing: Identifying and accounting for the factors that encourage or deter women in their breast cancer screening practices will help to optimize screening programs.

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