An assessment of community environmental health and perceived cancer risks: A study in Metropolitan Charleston
Methods: A convenience sample of residents in Metropolitan Charleston, South Carolina was recruited at local venues and community events to complete a 59-item health survey. Survey questions explored 6 domains: sociodemographic characteristics, environmental health risks, perceived cancer risk, health behaviors, self-efficacy, and social support which were adapted from existing surveys. Paper and online surveys were distributed from March to September 2013. SAS 9.3 was used to perform descriptive statistics.
Results: Survey respondents (N=405) were 81% female (n=322) and 19% male (n=75), employed (60%), owned their home (60%), were college graduates (52%) with an annual household income of $20,000-49,999 and 18-87 years of age. Overall, respondents were non-smokers (88%), considered themselves to be overweight (59%), engaged in physical activity (79%), had a good diet (48%), non-drinkers (59%), and never wore sunscreen (40%). They rated their community as a “somewhat good” place to live. Air pollution, water pollution, soil contamination, and toxic waste were not perceived as problems where most respondents lived; however, each was identified as a “very serious” health threat. Environment was perceived to play a “very important” role in causing disease especially cancers (69%). Respondents frequently worried about developing cancer, yet 36% felt that they were neither likely nor unlikely to develop cancer in their lifetime.
Conclusions: At-risk communities perceived the environment to be a major contributor in the development of cancer and therefore worry more often about developing cancer. Future studies will elucidate the relationship between perceived cancer risk and environment by sociodemographic characteristics to determine if differences exist within this population.
Learning Areas:Environmental health sciences
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences
Assess community perceptions of environmental health and cancer risks Assess community and environmental factors that contribute toward health disparities in at-risk populations through community-engaged research
Keyword(s): Cancer, Environmental Health
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I serve as the leader of the project described in the abstract, which focuses on environmental determinants and perceptions of cancer risk among a predominantly African-American community. I have conducted community-based research focused on addressing health disparities for 7 years.
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.