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Background: Asian Indians, primarily through immigration, are among the three fastest growing Asian minority populations in the United States. Sadly, Asian Indian Women did not meet the Health People 2020’s the 93% cervical cancer screening goal of 93%. Cervical cancer screening rates among Asian Indian Women were 70.5% compared to 82.7% among non-Hispanic Whites. A systematic review revealed the need for qualitative studies to explore influences of cultural beliefs on cervical cancer screening (pap smears) behaviors among Asian Indian Women applying symbolic interactionism theoretical framework.
Purpose: To explore the influence of cultural beliefs on cervical cancer screening behaviors among Asian Indian Women.
Method: A qualitative descriptive ethnographic design used descriptive ethosemantic semi-structured questions to investigate cultural impact on cervical cancer prevention behaviors among a purposive sample of 15 Asian Indian Women between the ages 21 to 49 years of age. Data analysis used inductive analytical methods.
Findings: Five themes influenced cervical cancer screening: locus of control, concept of health, ‘no sex before marriage,’ awareness, and body image. A healthy internal locus of control, sense of being healthy, awareness, and positive body image supported cervical cancer screening behaviors. An external locus of control, belief that health is not a priority, “no sex before marriage,” and low body image were barriers to cervical cancer screening behaviors. Additionally, the concept of “no sex before marriage” influenced timing of the first pap smear. Notwithstanding their cultural beliefs, employment, health insurance, and recommendations from their providers had a positive impact on cervical cancer screening.
Conclusion: Findings from this study have implications for both health policy and clinical practice. Health policy influences funding for basic screening and preventive services. Clinical practice implications encompass fostering partnerships within the community to promote prevention programs and cultural sensitivity training for providers. Future community-based participatory research should address interventional studies to increase compliance for cervical cancer screening and prevention behaviors among Asian Indian Women.
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