Online Program

Breast Cancer Survivorship among African Immigrant Women: A Qualitative Inquiry

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Ebun Ebunlomo, PHD, MPH, MCHES, Public Health Program, School of Health Sciences, American Public University, Charles Town, WV
Sheryl A. McCurdy, PhD, School of Public Health, University of Texas Houston Health Sciences Center, Houston, TX
Melissa Peskin, PhD, Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research, University of Texas Health Science Center-Houston, Houston, TX
Luisa Franzini, PhD, Management, Policy and Community Health Division, University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston, TX
Over the years, researchers have employed qualitative inquiry to elucidate cultural understandings of health and illness, and their implications for educational outreach efforts and clinical practices. In this study, we describe the breast cancer experience of African immigrant women in the United States, how they craft their stories from diagnosis through treatment, and the impact of breast cancer on their lives. We conducted interviews with ten African immigrant breast cancer survivors living in Houston, Texas. Audio-recorded interviews were transcribed and reviewed several times in order to identify major themes underlying participants’ stories. Participants were from Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya. Their ages ranged from 38 to 65 years old; surviving breast cancer for one to 25 years. Only two of the participants had a family history of breast cancer. Also, most of the participants’ diagnoses (six) were discovered through breast self-exam. The four major themes that emerged in this study are: African identity and disclosure, exposure, womanhood and sexuality, and linguistic gap / lost in translation. To illustrate each theme, direct quotes from participants have been included. To our knowledge, this study represents the first formative research endeavor exploring the experience of African breast cancer survivors, and it shows a unique perspective on how these women conceptualize their experience with breast cancer. It also provides great insights into how African immigrant women see themselves in relation to other breast cancer survivors living in the United States. Study findings also have implications for future breast health promotion initiatives and policy recommendations.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the breast cancer experience of African immigrant women in the United States; identify unique aspects of breast cancer survivorship discourse among African immigrant women; and list implications for breast health promotion and policy recommendations

Keyword(s): Cancer and Women’s Health, Immigrant Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been conducting community-based participatory research among African immigrant populations for over seven years. I have received graduate-level training in mixed methods approaches for assessing population-level health priorities and developing effective health promotion programs to address those identified needs. In addition, I was a Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Disparities Trainee and a Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas Innovation Pre-doctoral Fellow at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.
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.