The Influence of Culture on the Views of Black African/African-Caribbean Men Living In the UK Towards Cancer

Mulugeta, Betselot orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-8654-3457 (2014) The Influence of Culture on the Views of Black African/African-Caribbean Men Living In the UK Towards Cancer. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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In the United Kingdom (UK), men face a significantly higher risk of contracting and dying from cancer. Prostate, lung and colorectal cancer are the most common cancers diagnosed in men; with prostate cancer disproportionately affecting black men. Little is known about black African (BA) and black African-Caribbean (BAC) men’s view towards cancer; yet culture and acculturation determine the way in which people understand, explain and develop their attitudes towards cancer. Hence, cancer prevention and early detection strategies may not be sensitive to UK-based black men views, affecting their awareness of risk factors and early detection services. An evidence based understanding about black men’s views towards cancer is needed to effectively target cancer prevention strategies. This qualitative study explored the influence of culture on the views of UK based BA and BAC men towards cancer.
In collaboration with black community organisations based in Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, and London, 27 participants were recruited. Convenience and theoretical sampling methods were used. Data were collected from June 2013-February 2014 using semi-structured one-to-one interviews. Data were analysed using the grounded theory analytical method.
BA and BAC men have their own distinct beliefs concerning the causes of cancer, which influence how they view cancer as a whole. Seven categories: ‘Cultural views’; ‘Religious beliefs’; ‘Avoiding Babylon’; ‘Alienation’; ‘Suspicious mind’; ‘Advertisements and information influence very little’, and ‘Gap in service provision (Bridging the gap)’ were identified as sub-categories revolving around the core category: ‘Cancer through black eyes’. Cancer was not viewed as a purely medical condition through black eyes. Black men’s views towards cancer were closely linked to socially constructed perspectives of themselves, linked with their cultural and religious beliefs; what being black male means in society, the meanings of historical phenomena like slavery, and the meanings they ascribed to social systems and establishments, such as healthcare systems. Clinical risk factors such as smoking and obesity had different meanings and symbolisation through black eyes. There were macro- and micro-level similarities and differences between BA and BAC men.
Cancer-related services, such as public-health campaigns, aimed at black men need to be sensitive enough to understand cancer through black eyes. Public health campaigns based on only the clinical meaning of cancer mismatch with black men’s understandings of cancer. Accordingly, the effort made to increase public awareness of cancer and to reduce health inequality in this regard may continue to be ineffective. Findings from this study can be used to inform public health policy makers, and healthcare professionals more broadly, including professionals involved in health promotion, as well as charitable organisations aiming to provide services that will be utilised by BA and BAC men.

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