200993 Social Context of Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Barriers among Haitian Immigrant Women

Wednesday, November 11, 2009: 9:15 AM

Janelle Menard, PhD, MA, MPH , Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Miami, FL
Erin Kobetz, PhD, MPH , Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Miami, Leonard Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL
Betsy Barton, MA , Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Cneter, Miami, FL
Joshua D. Diem, PhD , Department of Teaching and Learning, University of Miami, School of Education, Coral Gables, FL
Jenny Blanco, MPH , Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Miami, FL
Martine Lifleur, MPH, PA , Center for Haitian Studies, Miami, FL

Research has delineated various structural, socio-cultural, and economic barriers to breast and cervical cancer screening among medically underserved women in the US. However, little is known about the influence of such barriers on the screening practices of Haitian immigrant women, who are disproportionately diagnosed with advanced breast and cervical cancers when the prognosis for survival is poor.


As part of an ongoing Community-based Participatory Research (CBPR) initiative, we aimed to identify barriers to cancer screening in Little Haiti, the predominately Haitian neighborhood in Miami, Florida. Study findings will inform future intervention design and delivery.


Towards this end, Community Health Workers (CHWs) conducted in-depth interviews with Haitian women residing in Little Haiti. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and then analyzed using a grounded theory approach. Emergent thematic categories were examined for interconnectedness in search of a model to describe barriers to screening among Haitian women.


Study findings revealed structural, economic, linguistic, and educational barriers to screening. Health was generally perceived as intrinsically connected to an individual's ability to work and the absence of physical symptoms. Women's perceptions of cancer etiology, and strategies for disease were largely informed by religious and cultural beliefs about morality and illness causation.


Haitian cultural constructions of cancer are unique and must be considered within a larger socio-political context. Efforts to attenuate cancer disparities in Little Haiti, and other similar ethnic enclaves, must be guided by a thorough understanding of such contexts and their impact on health behavior.

Learning Objectives:
Discuss study findings and implications for future research and intervention.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I helped conceptualize community-based participatory research projects, develop and translate data collection instruments, and was partly responsible for data analysis. These activities have resulted in manuscripts in publication, in press and under review, as well as, grant proposals submitted at the federal level. I am a public health-trained medical anthropologist (PhD, MPH) whose expertise is in cultural constructions of reproductive health in Haitian immigrant women, and health seeking behavior.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.