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Lung Cancer Stigma Predicts Timing of Medical Help-Seeking Behavior

Lisa Carter-Harris
Carla P. Hermann
Judy Schreiber
Michael T. Weaver
Susan M. Rawl
ONF 2014, 41(3), E203-E210 DOI: 10.1188/14.ONF.E203-E210

Purpose/Objectives: To examine relationships among demographic variables, healthcare system distrust, lung cancer stigma, smoking status, and timing of medical help-seeking behavior in individuals with symptoms suggestive of lung cancer after controlling for ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and social desirability.

Design: Descriptive, cross-sectional, correlational study.

Setting: Outpatient oncology clinics in Louisville, KY.

Sample: 94 patients diagnosed in the past three weeks to six years with all stages of lung cancer.

Methods: Self-report, written survey packets were administered in person followed by a semistructured interview to assess symptoms and timing characteristics of practice-identified patients with lung cancer.

Main Research Variables: Timing of medical help-seeking behavior, healthcare system distrust, lung cancer stigma, and smoking status.

Findings: Lung cancer stigma was independently associated with timing of medical help-seeking behavior in patients with lung cancer. Healthcare system distrust and smoking status were not independently associated with timing of medical help-seeking behavior.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that stigma influences medical help-seeking behavior for lung cancer symptoms, serving as a barrier to prompt medical help-seeking behavior.

Implications for Nursing: When designing interventions to promote early medical help-seeking behavior in individuals with symptoms suggestive of lung cancer, methods that consider lung cancer stigma as a barrier that can be addressed through public awareness and patient-targeted interventions should be included.

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