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Fatalism and Mammography in a Multicultural Population

Orna Baron-Epel
Nurit Friedman
Omri Lernau
ONF 2009, 36(3), 353-361 DOI: 10.1188/09.ONF.353-361

Purpose/Objectives: To assess levels of fatalistic beliefs and their association with mammography use in four population groups in Israel.

Design: Telephone survey.

Setting: Maccabi Healthcare Services in Israel.

Sample: A random sample of 1,550 Arabic and Jewish women.

Methods: A random telephone survey was performed during May and June 2007. Women's fatalistic beliefs were measured. Information from claims records regarding mammography use was obtained for each woman.

Main Research Variables: Levels of fatalistic beliefs and mammography use.

Findings: Fatalistic beliefs included general beliefs that God or fate (external force) was the cause of cancer and related to cancer survivorship. The higher-educated women reported less fatalistic beliefs. Arab women reported more fatalistic beliefs compared to the other women. Mammography use was associated with fatalistic beliefs that external forces were the cause of cancer among Arab and immigrant women but not among veteran Jewish and ultraorthodox women. Fatalistic beliefs about cancer survivorship were not associated with mammography in any of the population groups. Levels of fatalism and education may explain the difference in rates of mammography among Arab and Jewish women.

Conclusions: High levels of fatalism may inhibit women from having a mammogram, particularly Arab and immigrant women in Israel. However, this is not a generalizable result for all population groups and all types of fatalism.

Implications for Nursing: Interventions to decrease fatalism in Arabs and immigrants may increase compliance with mammography. Nurses may achieve this by developing tailored messages for women who believe that external forces are the cause of cancer.

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