Cancer-related beliefs and preventive health practices among residents of rural versus urban counties in Alabama

Academic Article


  • Higher prevalence of cancer-related risk factors, for example, tobacco use, obesity, poor diet, and physical inactivity, is observed in the U.S. Deep South and likely contributes to its increased cancer burden. While this region is largely rural, it is unknown whether cancer-related beliefs and lifestyle practices differ by rural-urban status or are more influenced by other factors. We contacted 5,633 Alabamians to complete a cross-sectional survey to discern cancer-related beliefs and lifestyle practices, and compared data from respondents residing in rural- versus urban-designated counties. Findings were summarized using descriptive statistics; rural-urban subgroups were compared using two-tailed, x2 and t tests. Multivariable logistic regression models were used to explore associations by rural-urban status and other sociodemographic factors. Surveys were completed by 671 rural- and 183 urban-county respondents (15.2% response rate). Overall, the prevalence for overweight and obesity (77.8%) and sugar-sweetened beverage intake (273-364 calories/day) was higher than national levels. Most respondents (58%) endorsed raising the state tobacco tax. Respondents from rural- versus urban-designated counties were significantly more likely to be racial/ethnic minority, have lower education, employment, income, food security, and internet access, and endorse fatalistic cancer-related beliefs (<0.05; although regression models suggested that cancer belief differences are more strongly associated with education than counties of residence). Lifestyle practices were similar among rural-urban subgroups. Few rural-urban differences in cancer-related beliefs and lifestyle practices were found among survey respondents, although the high overall prevalence of fatalistic health beliefs and suboptimal lifestyle behaviors suggests a need for statewide cancer prevention campaigns and policies, including increased tobacco taxation.
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    Author List

  • Aly S; Daniel CL; Bae S; Scarinci IC; Hardy CM; Fouad MN; Baskin ML; Hoenemeyer T; Acemgil A; Demark-Wahnefried W
  • Start Page

  • 593
  • End Page

  • 602
  • Volume

  • 14
  • Issue

  • 5