Online Program

Health literacy, health communication challenges, and cancer screening among rural Native Hawaiian and Filipino women

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Tetine Sentell, PhD, Office of Public Health Studies, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI
May Rose Dela Cruz, Office of Public Health Studies, Honolulu, HI
Hyun-Hee Heo, MA, Department of Public Health Sciences, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI
Kathryn L. Braun, DrPH, Office of Public Health Studies, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI
Background. Native Hawaiian and Filipino women are disproportionately impacted by cancer, and are less likely to participate in cancer screening than whites. Limited information exists about health literacy and cancer-related health communication challenges in these groups.

Methods. Six focus groups (n=77) of Native Hawaiian and Filipino women age 40+ in rural communities were conducted to investigate these research gaps.

Results. Health literacy varied across focus groups. Three groups had high percentages of limited health literacy (>18%) and three groups had low percentages (<10%). Across all focus groups, participants noted many health information challenges. Challenges were both practical and interpersonal and included both written and oral health communication. Practical challenges included “big” words, complexity of terms, and lack of plain English. Interpersonal issues included doctors rushing, doctors not asking them if they understood, and doctors not treating them like individuals. Women noted that they would often not ask questions even when they knew they did not understand because they did not want to be seen as stupid.

Participants had innovative and culturally-relevant ideas to improve cancer-related communication gaps in their communities. Overarching themes included: (1) the importance of family and community in health information dissemination; (2) the key role women play in interpreting health information for others; (3) the importance of personal experience and relationships to the salience of health information; and (4) the desire for local cultural relevance in health communication.

Conclusions. These focus groups provided novel insights into cancer-related communication barriers and solutions among understudied, vulnerable populations.

Learning Areas:

Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the health literacy and health communication challenges related to cancer screening among Native Hawaiians and Filipino women.

Keyword(s): Cancer Screening, Asian and Pacific Islander Women

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have researched topics related to language and health literacy in Hawaii for several years and was the PI of a funded project on this topic.
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.