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African Americans With a Family History of Colorectal Cancer: Barriers and Facilitators to Screening

Kathleen Griffith
Susan R. Passmore
Domanic Smith
Jennifer Wenzel
ONF 2012, 39(3), 299-306 DOI: 10.1188/12.ONF.299-306

Purpose/Objectives: To explore barriers and facilitators of screening for colorectal cancer (CRC), as well as suggestions for improving screening among African Americans with first-degree relatives with CRC.

Research Approach: A qualitative, descriptive approach involving focus groups.

Setting: A community healthcare clinic in Baltimore, MD.

Participants: 14 African American men and women aged 40 or older with at least one first-degree family member affected by CRC.

Methodologic Approach: In-depth focus groups were conducted until thematic saturation was achieved. Thematic analysis and data reduction were conducted using ATLAS.ti, version 5.0.

Main Research Variables: CRC screening barriers and facilitators.

Findings: The participants were mostly male, insured, and had a parent with CRC. Commonly reported barriers to CRC screening included fear of serious illness, mistrust of the medical establishment, potential screening discomfort, lack of information on CRC risk factors, lack of healthcare access, absence of symptoms, no knowledge of CRC screening benefits, community reticence about cancer, and CRC myths. Facilitating factors for CRC screening included a belief of personal risk for CRC, physician recommendations, and acknowledgment of age as a risk factor. Suggestions to increase screening rates included distribution of culturally appropriate and community-based efforts (e.g., mobile units, church-based interventions). Participants also suggested ways to increase motivation and provide social support for screening patients.

Conclusions: Additional research is needed to identify and test effective screening approaches for this underserved group at increased risk for CRC. Study results suggest that cancer risk and screening education, coupled with screening opportunities in the community, may yield increased screening rates.

Interpretation: Lack of knowledge about CRC and CRC screening exists in the study population. Promoting screening across generations, developing and disseminating culturally appropriate educational materials within the community, and encouraging older individuals to screen to take care of their family may be appropriate interventions.

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