Awareness and beliefs about cancer and barriers to healthcare seeking charted in new PhD dissertation
Most people know many of the symptoms of cancer and will quickly contact their GP if they experience symptoms. This is the conclusion from a new PhD dissertation from CaP, Aarhus University.
The Danish population's awareness and beliefs about cancer and barriers to healthcare seeking is investigated by PhD Fellow Line Hvidberg at Research Centre for Cancer Diagnosis in Primary Care, CaP. The results from the studies show that most people will go to the GP as soon as possible if they experience cancer symptoms.
The dissertation also identifies several barriers that can prevent or delay an expedited healthcare seeking. In addition, many seem to have conflicting perceptions - both positive and negative - about cancer.
Fear, bustle and worry
The most negative perceptions were found among people with little education and low income. This group also had a lower knowledge of the symptoms and risk factors for cancer, which could mean that they might contact their GP when the cancer has developed and is difficult to cure. A major barrier to healthcare seeking in this group was also "concerns about what the doctor would find".
Among the highly educated, "the bustle of everyday life" was a major reason to postpone doctor visits, even though they may have detected a serious symptom. Furthermore, for people who self-rated their own health status as "poor", a significant barrier to healthcare seeking was "concerns about wasting the doctor's time. "
Defense on February 20th 2017
The PhD dissertation and the four related scientific articles originate from the Health Faculty at Aarhus University. The project was carried out in close collaboration between the Research Centre for Cancer Diagnosis in Primary Care, CaP at Aarhus University, the Research Unit for General Practice in Aarhus and the International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership, ICBP. The project received funding from the Danish Cancer Society, the Tryg Foundation and Aarhus University.
Line Hvidberg defended her PhD dissertation "Awareness and beliefs about cancer and barriers to healthcare seeking in the general population" on February 20th 2017.
PhD Fellow Line Hvidberg
Aarhus University, Department of Public Health
The Research Unit for General Practice & Research Centre for Cancer Diagnosis in Primary Care (CaP)
Phone: +45 87168369
The PhD dissertation's four scientific articles:
- Measurement properties of the Danish version of the Awareness and Beliefs about Cancer (ABC) measure: This article shows that the Danish version of ABC-measure was understandable and acceptable for the target group and that the measure-tool conceptually corresponds to the English version. The content validity was good, while the test-retest reliability was moderate.
- Awareness of cancer symptoms and anticipated patient interval for healthcare seeking. A comparative study of Denmark and Sweden: This study compares knowledge about cancer among Swedes and Danes. The results show surprisingly that the Swedish respondents were significantly less likely to recognize an unexplained lump or swelling and prolonged cough or hoarseness as possible signs of cancer. They also generally have a longer expected patient interval before healthcare seeking when experiencing changes in the breast and rectal bleeding than Danish respondents.
- Barriers to healthcare seeking, beliefs about cancer and the role of socio-economic position. A Danish population-based study: This article shows that approximately one fourth of the Danes indicate that "concerns about what the doctor would find" and "bustle of everyday life" could get them to postpone healthcare seeking when experiencing a possible serious symptom. Furthermore, most of them have positive perceptions of cancer, while a fewer have negative perceptions. Negative perceptions were most common among lower-educated people with low income.
- Cancer awareness and socio-economic position: results from a population-based study in Denmark: This study shows that most people know many of the symptoms and risk factors for cancer. However, there is a social gradient in the awareness so that people with little education and low income have less knowledge of the symptoms and risk factors for cancer than those with higher education and higher income.