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Structure and meaning in models of breast and cervical cancer risk factors: a comparison of perceptions among Latinas, Anglo women, and physicians.


This article reports on a study of perceptions of breast and cervical cancer risk factors among 27 U.S.-born Chicanas, 39 Mexican and 28 Salvadoran immigrants, 27 Anglo women, and 30 physicians in northern Orange County, California. In open-ended responses explaining why women might be at risk for both cancers, Latinas expressed two general themes: physical stress and trauma to the body, and behavior and lifestyle choices. Interviewees ranked the specific risk factors that they themselves mentioned. Cultural consensus of ranked data revealed that Mexican and Salvadoran immigrants had a model of cancer risks that was different from those of Anglo women and physicians. U.S.-born Chicanas were bicultural in their views, which overlapped with both Mexican women's and Anglo women's views, but less so with physicians' views. Comparing views about the two cancers revealed that general themes apply across both cancers, that Latina immigrants agreed less on the risk factors for cervical cancer than for breast cancer, and that there is a consistent pattern in the different ways Latinas, Anglos, and physicians perceive risk factors for both cancers.

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