Graduation Year

2016

Degree

M.A.

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Anthropology

Major Professor

Nancy Romero-Daza, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Jaime Corvin, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Linda Whiteford, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Tuya Pal, M.D.

Keywords

access, applied anthropology, medical decision-making, prevention, screening, treatment

Abstract

The scale and severity of cancer, specifically breast cancer, remains significantly different across the spectrum of low-income to high-income countries. This study explores women’s beliefs about breast cancer and associated prevention and health-seeking behaviors in a rural area of Uganda. Through a critical medical anthropological perspective, the study examines the social, cultural, and economic factors that shape women’s understanding of cancer, and breast cancer specifically, and that influence their use of biomedical services. Data were collected over a three-month period through 35 in-depth interviews and two focus groups with 10 women older than 18 years in the rural setting of Nakirebe within Mpigi District, and through five interviews with health care personnel from a private and a government health care facility in Mpigi District. Quantitative and Qualitative data were analyzed using SPSS version 23 and MAXQDA 12.0.2, respectively. Findings suggest that women in this rural setting have limited access to screening and incomplete knowledge about breast cancer, and cancer in general, and internalize fears of a cancer diagnosis. No women were diagnosed with any type of cancer at the time of this study. Common attitudes towards cancer from the women include inevitable death, cancer is caused by contact with artificial substances and/or germs, and cancer causes pain, wounds that never heal, and the removal of body parts. Recommendations for improving cancer control and management in rural Uganda through awareness initiatives and community health outreach programs are presented.

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