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      Perceptions about cancer and barriers towards cancer screening among ethnic minority women in a deprived area in Denmark – a qualitative study


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          Screening programmes for cervical cancer, breast cancer and colorectal cancer have been implemented in many Western countries to reduce cancer incidence and mortality. Ethnic minority women are less likely to participate in cancer screening than the majority population. In worst case this can result in higher incidence rates, later diagnosis and treatment and ultimately inferior survival. In this paper we explored the perceptions about cancer and perceived barriers towards cancer screening participation among ethnic minority women in a deprived area in Denmark.


          Interview study with ethnic minority women in a deprived area in Denmark. The interviews were transcribed verbatim followed by an inductive content analysis.


          Cancer was perceived as a deadly disease that could not be treated. Cancer screening was perceived as only relevant if the women had symptoms. Knowledge about cancer screening was fragmented, often due to inadequate Danish language skills and there was a general mistrust in the Danish healthcare system due to perceived low medical competences in Danish doctors. There was, however, a very positive and curious attitude regarding information about the Danish cancer screening programmes and a want for more information.


          Ethnic minority women did not have sufficient knowledge about cancer and the purpose of cancer screening. Perceptions about cancer screening were characterised by openness and the study showed positive and curious attitudes towards screening participation. The findings emphasise the importance of culturally adapted interventions for ethnic minority women in attempts to reduce inequality in screening participation.

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          Most cited references25

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            Effectiveness of Breast Cancer Screening: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis to Update the 2009 U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation.

            In 2009, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended biennial mammography screening for women aged 50 to 74 years and selective screening for those aged 40 to 49 years.
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              Patient-doctor communication.

              Communication is an important component of patient care. Traditionally, communication in medical school curricula was incorporated informally as part of rounds and faculty feedback, but without a specific or intense focus on skills of communicating per se. The reliability and consistency of this teaching method left gaps, which are currently getting increased attention from medical schools and accreditation organizations. There is also increased interest in researching patient-doctor communication and recognizing the need to teach and measure this specific clinical skill. In 1999, the Accreditation of Council for Graduate Medical Education implemented a requirement for accreditation for residency programs that focuses on "interpersonal and communications skills that result in effective information exchange and teaming with patients, their families, and other health professionals." The National Board of Medical Examiners, Federation of State Medical Boards. and the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates have proposed an examination between the. third and fourth year of medical school that "requires students to demonstrate they can gather information from patients, perform a physical examination, and communicate their findings to patients and colleagues" using standardized patients. One's efficiency and effectiveness in communication can be improved through training, but it is unlikely that any future advances will negate the need and value of compassionate and empathetic two-way communication between clinician and patient. The published literature also expresses belief in the essential role of communication. "It has long been recognized that difficulties in the effective delivery of health care can arise from problems in communication between patient and provider rather than from any failing in the technical aspects of medical care. Improvements in provider-patient communication can have beneficial effects on health outcomes". A systematic review of randomized clinical trials and analytic studies of physician-patient communication confirmed a positive influence of quality communication on health outcomes. Continuing research in this arena is important. For a successful and humanistic encounter at an office visit, one needs to be sure that the patient's key concerns have been directly and specifically solicited and addressed. To be effective, the clinician must gain an understanding of the patient's perspective on his or her illness. Patient concerns can be wide ranging, including fear of death, mutilation, disability; ominous attribution to pain symptoms; distrust of the medical profession; concern about loss of wholeness, role, status, or independence; denial of reality of medical problems; grief; fear of leaving home; and other uniquely personal issues. Patient values, cultures, and preferences need to be explored. Gender is another element that needs to be taken into consideration. Ensuring key issues are verbalized openly is fundamental to effective patient-doctor communication. The clinician should be careful not to be judgmental or scolding because this may rapidly close down communication. Sometimes the patient gains therapeutic benefit just from venting concerns in a safe environment with a caring clinician. Appropriate reassurance or pragmatic suggestions to help with problem solving and setting up a structured plan of action may be an important part of the patient care that is required. Counseling around unhealthy or risky behaviors is an important communication skill that should be part of health care visits. Understanding the psychology of behavioral change and establishing a systematic framework for such interventions, which includes the five As of patient counseling (assess, advise, agree, assist, and arrange) are steps toward ensuring effective patient-doctor communication. Historically in medicine, there was a paternalistic approach to deciding what should be done for a patient: the physician knew best and the patient accepted the recommendation without question. This era is ending, being replaced with consumerism and the movement toward shared decision-making. Patients are advising each other to "educate yourself and ask questions". Patient satisfaction with their care, rests heavily on how successfully this transition is accomplished. Ready access to quality information and thoughtful patient-doctor discussions is at the fulcrum of this revolution.

                Author and article information

                BMC Public Health
                BMC Public Health
                BMC Public Health
                BioMed Central (London )
                12 June 2020
                12 June 2020
                : 20
                : 921
                [1 ]GRID grid.415677.6, ISNI 0000 0004 0646 8878, Department of Public Health Programmes, , Randers Regional Hospital, ; Randers, Denmark
                [2 ]GRID grid.7048.b, ISNI 0000 0001 1956 2722, Department of Clinical Medicine, , Aarhus University, ; Aarhus, Denmark
                [3 ]Laegerne i Gellerup, Brabrand, Denmark
                [4 ]GRID grid.154185.c, ISNI 0000 0004 0512 597X, Department of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, , Aarhus University Hospital, ; Aarhus, Denmark
                Author information
                © The Author(s) 2020

                Open AccessThis article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

                : 20 December 2019
                : 3 June 2020
                Funded by: the Danish government Cancer Action Plan IV
                Funded by: Public Health in Central Denmark Region - a collaboration between municipalities and the region
                Research Article
                Custom metadata
                © The Author(s) 2020

                Public health
                mass screening,early detection of cancer,participation,non-participation,healthcare disparities,ethnic groups,emigrants and immigrants,qualitative research,denmark


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