According to a study published in a recent issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, colorectal cancer screening rates among people without financial means remain to be low despite free health care being offered. Psychologists suggest the cause may be an idea called 'cancer fatalism'.
Anne Miles, Ph.D., a lecturer in psychology at Birkbeck, University of London, stated that people who believed that the cancer screenings wouldn't help or they were going to die of cancer anyway, often ignore screening recommendations. She said:
"In England, the screenings are free and the subsequent health treatments are free as well, yet people of lower socioeconomic status still do not get screened. We wanted to find out what else was going on."
Miles and her team conducted a study evaluating data from 529 adults between the ages of 60 to 69 years who had completed a series of surveys measuring their socioeconomic status, self-rated health and rate of cancer fatalism. Researchers then tested these measures against the rate of fecal occult blood testing and discovered, that 56% more men and women with higher socioeconomic status, better self-rated health and lower cancer fatalism reported that they would be likely to undergo colorectal cancer screening by fecal occult blood testing.
According to Miles, cancer fatalism can be reduced if properly identified:
"There is clearly something else going on here besides costs. We need to understand peoples' attitudes toward screening. If they think it won't help, they won't do it, even if it's free."
Written by Petra Rattue