Effect of cultural, folk, and religious beliefs and practices on delays in diagnosis of ovarian cancer in African American women

Academic Article


  • Background: Certain cultural, folk, and religious beliefs that are more common among African Americans (AAs) have been associated with later-stage breast cancer. It is unknown if these beliefs are similarly associated with delays in diagnosis of ovarian cancer. Methods: Data from a multicenter case-control study of ovarian cancer in AA women were used to examine associations between cultural/folk beliefs and religious practices and stage at diagnosis and symptom duration before diagnosis. Associations between cultural/folk beliefs or religious practices and stage at diagnosis were assessed with logistic regression analyses, and associations with symptom duration with linear regression analyses. Results: Agreement with several of the cultural/folk belief statements was high (e.g., 40% agreed that "if a person prays about cancer, God will heal it without medical treatments"), and ∼90% of women expressed moderate to high levels of religiosity/spirituality. Higher levels of religiosity/spirituality were associated with a twofold increase in the odds of stage III-IV ovarian cancer, whereas agreement with the cultural/folk belief statements was not associated with stage. Symptom duration before diagnosis was not consistently associated with cultural/folk beliefs or religiosity/spirituality. Conclusions: Women who reported stronger religious beliefs or practices had increased odds of higher stage ovarian cancer. Inaccurate cultural/folk beliefs about cancer treament were not associated with stage; however, these beliefs were highly prevalent in our population and could impact patient treatment decisions. Our findings suggest opportunities for health education interventions, especially working with churches, and improved doctor-patient communication.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 25298542
  • Author List

  • Moorman PG; Barrett NJ; Wang F; Alberg JA; Bandera EV; Barnholtz-Sloan JB; Bondy M; Cote ML; Funkhouser E; Kelemen LE
  • Start Page

  • 444
  • End Page

  • 451
  • Volume

  • 28
  • Issue

  • 4