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Contextualizing the Survivorship Experiences of Haitian Immigrant Women With Breast Cancer: Opportunities for Health Promotion

Erin Kobetz
Janelle Menard
Noella Dietz
Gabrielle Hazan
Hosanna Soler-Vila
Suzanne Lechner
Joshua Diem
Pascale Auguste
ONF 2011, 38(5), 555-560 DOI: 10.1188/11.ONF.555-560

Purpose/Objectives: To examine challenges faced by Haitian immigrant women managing a breast cancer diagnosis.

Research Approach: Trained community health workers conducted focus groups with Haitian women who were breast cancer survivors. A grounded theory approach guided analysis of transcripts.

Setting: A large community-based organization in Miami, FL.

Participants: 18 women took part in three focus groups. Participants were 40 years or older, were ethnically Haitian, and had been diagnosed with breast cancer 6-12 months prior to the study.

Methodologic Approach: Data were collected as part of an ongoing community-based participatory research initiative in Little Haiti, the largest enclave of Haitian settlement in Miami, FL. Community health workers, integral to the initiative, recruited participants through their extensive social networks and community contacts.

Main Research Variables: Screening knowledge, illness beliefs, social and economic consequences of a breast cancer diagnosis, and advice for breast health education.

Findings: Emergent themes suggest that Haitian breast cancer survivors face multiple challenges, including misperceptions about screening guidelines, disease etiology, and risk; a reduced capacity to earn a living because of physical debility; and diminished social support.

Conclusions: Future research must continue to examine the impact of breast cancer on Haitian immigrant women and identify key strategies, such as community outreach and support programs, to improve their quality of life.

Interpretation: Nurses can play an essential role in such strategies by providing culturally relevant clinical care and partnering with community stakeholders to define the scope and focus of public health intervention.

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