Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Susan C. McMillan, Ph.D., A.R.N.P.


Breast cancer, Cancer screening, Acculturation Hispanic, Latina, Health belief model


Despite multiple campaigns by the American Cancer Society, reports indicate that Latinas living in the United States who contract breast cancer are more likely than Anglos to die. These findings correlate with low participation in breast cancer screenings among Latinas. The objective of this study was to identify key obstacles that influence Latinas' low participation in breast cancer screenings, based on their health beliefs, knowledge of screenings, acculturation, and socio-economic factors.The study was a face-to-face informal interview, combined with a survey questionnaire conducted at churches, social clubs and/or at the participants' homes in a southwest Florida urban community. The sample consisted of a total of 50 women: all of the participants were Latinas 40 years of age and over; they had to be fluent in Spanish or English or both. A Spanish-English bilingual individual conducted a personal interview in the preferred language of each participant.

The first part of the interview was to identify barriers that affect screenings. The second part used a survey to weigh the identified factors in order to determine their importance to the participants' health decisions. This study used a health belief model scale to evaluate women's beliefs about breast cancer, and the benefits of screenings.The research results revealed that Latinas who participated in this study were acculturated to the United States culture; the largest group of participants reported being from Colombia, followed by Cuba and Puerto Rico; only two of the participants were Mexican. Seventy-eight percent of the participants self- reported having yearly mammograms, and 74% performed monthly breast self examination BSE; 60% were bilingual; 68% had some kind of health insurance. These results differ from earlier studies from the western United States where the majority of Latinas were of Mexican or Central American origin.

This suggested that Latinas from Southwest Florida are different from Latinas in other areas of the United States. A weak but significant correlation was found between acculturation and perceived barriers to breast cancer screenings, (r = 0.45, p = .01); Latinas who are more acculturated perceived more barriers than those who are less acculturated. There was not significant difference between participants who had health insurance and those who did not (t = 0.96, p = .35). The results of this study are significant for nurses and especially for advanced practice nurses, who can assess patients' knowledge about cancer in general, and breast cancer in particular when caring for Latinas; of particular concern should be the evaluation of patients' levels of acculturation, health beliefs, and understanding of the English language. Still the fundamental barrier to Latinas not bilingual in Spanish and English may be the lack of resources and information in Spanish.