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Ethnic differences in cancer symptom awareness and barriers to seeking medical help in England

Niksic, Maja, Rachet, Bernard, Warburton, Fiona G., Forbes, Lindsay J.L. (2016) Ethnic differences in cancer symptom awareness and barriers to seeking medical help in England. British Journal of Cancer, 115 . pp. 136-144. ISSN 0007-0920. E-ISSN 1532-1827. (doi:10.1038/bjc.2016.158) (KAR id:56175)


Background: Ethnic differences in cancer symptom awareness and barriers to seeking medical help in the English population are not fully understood. We aimed to quantify these differences, to help develop more effective health campaigns, tailored to the needs of different ethnic groups.

Methods: Using a large national data set (n=38492) of cross-sectional surveys that used the Cancer Research UK Cancer Awareness Measure, we examined how cancer symptom awareness and barriers varied by ethnicity, controlling for socio-economic position, age and gender. Data were analysed using multivariable logistic regression.

Results: Awareness of cancer symptoms was lower in minority ethnic groups than White participants, with the lowest awareness observed among Bangladeshis and Black Africans. Ethnic minorities were more likely than White British to report barriers to helpseeking. South Asians reported the highest emotional barriers, such as lack of confidence to talk to the doctor, and practical barriers, such as worry about many other things. The Irish were more likely than the White British to report practical barriers, such as being too busy to visit a doctor. White British participants were more likely than any other ethnic group to report that they would feel worried about wasting the doctor’s time. Overall, Black Africans had the lowest barriers. All differences were statistically significant (P<0.01 level), after controlling for confounders.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest the need for culturally sensitive and targeted health campaigns, focused on improving recognition of cancer symptoms among ethnic minorities. Campaigns should tackle the specific barriers prevalent in each ethnic group.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1038/bjc.2016.158
Uncontrolled keywords: ethnicity; cancer awareness; barriers; help-seeking behaviour; social inequality; England
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC254 Neoplasms. Tumors. Oncology
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research > Centre for Health Services Studies
Depositing User: Lindsay Forbes
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2016 10:24 UTC
Last Modified: 12 Dec 2022 10:59 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Forbes, Lindsay J.L..

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