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Cancer symptom awareness and barriers to medical help seeking in Scottish adolescents: a cross-sectional study.

Hubbard G, Macmillan I, Canny A, Forbat L, Neal RD, O'Carroll RE, Haw S, Kyle RG - BMC Public Health (2014)

Bottom Line: Emotional barriers were the most commonly endorsed, followed by family, service and practical barriers.Over two thirds of adolescents were 'worried about what the doctor would find' and over half were 'scared'.The role of emotional factors indicates that public health campaigns focused on awareness and help seeking may benefit from having a more emotional focus, for example, including references to feelings, such as, fears and worries.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Cancer Care Research Centre, School of Health Sciences, University of Stirling, FK9 4LA, Stirling, UK. gill.hubbard@stir.ac.uk.

ABSTRACT

Background: Initiatives to promote early diagnosis include raising public awareness of signs and symptoms of cancer and addressing barriers to seeking medical help about cancer. Awareness of signs and symptoms of cancer and emotional barriers, such as fear, worry, and embarrassment, strongly influence help seeking behaviour. Whether anxiety influences seeking medical help about cancer is not known. The purpose of this study about adolescents was to examine: 1) the relationship between contextual factors and awareness of signs and symptoms of cancer and barriers (including emotional barriers) to seeking medical help, and 2) associations between anxiety and endorsed barriers to seeking medical help. Interpretation of data is informed by the common sense model of the self-regulation of health and illness.

Methods: A cross-sectional study of 2,173 Scottish adolescents (age 12/13 years) using the Cancer Awareness Measure. Socio-demographic questions were also included. Descriptive statistics were calculated and two Poisson regression models were built to determine independent predictors of: 1) the number of cancer warning signs recognized, and; 2) number of barriers to help seeking endorsed.

Results: Analysis identified that knowing someone with cancer was a significant independent predictor of recognising more cancer warning signs whereas Black and Minority Ethnic status was a significant independent predictor of recognising fewer cancer warning signs. Emotional barriers were the most commonly endorsed, followed by family, service and practical barriers. Over two thirds of adolescents were 'worried about what the doctor would find' and over half were 'scared'. Higher anxiety scores, knowing more cancer warning signs and female gender were significant independent predictors of barriers to help seeking.

Conclusion: Improving cancer awareness and help seeking behaviour during adolescence may contribute to early presentation. Contextual factors (for example, ethnicity, gender, knowing someone with cancer), and emotional dimensions (for example, anxiety, fear, worry) are critical components in help seeking behaviours. The role of emotional factors indicates that public health campaigns focused on awareness and help seeking may benefit from having a more emotional focus, for example, including references to feelings, such as, fears and worries.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

Participant Flowchart.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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Fig1: Participant Flowchart.

Mentions: There were 3,223 adolescents on the school register at the end of their first year (S1) of education (age 12/13 years) in study schools; 2,173 (67.4%) consented to data collection. We do not know how many students were in attendance on the days consent was given. Thus, we are uncertain if the sample reflects school absences on the day students were consenting, or whether some classes in S1 were not given the opportunity to complete the survey, or whether some students did not consent. A study flowchart is shown in Figure 1.Figure 1


Cancer symptom awareness and barriers to medical help seeking in Scottish adolescents: a cross-sectional study.

Hubbard G, Macmillan I, Canny A, Forbat L, Neal RD, O'Carroll RE, Haw S, Kyle RG - BMC Public Health (2014)

Participant Flowchart.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License 1 - License 2
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4230513&req=5

Fig1: Participant Flowchart.
Mentions: There were 3,223 adolescents on the school register at the end of their first year (S1) of education (age 12/13 years) in study schools; 2,173 (67.4%) consented to data collection. We do not know how many students were in attendance on the days consent was given. Thus, we are uncertain if the sample reflects school absences on the day students were consenting, or whether some classes in S1 were not given the opportunity to complete the survey, or whether some students did not consent. A study flowchart is shown in Figure 1.Figure 1

Bottom Line: Emotional barriers were the most commonly endorsed, followed by family, service and practical barriers.Over two thirds of adolescents were 'worried about what the doctor would find' and over half were 'scared'.The role of emotional factors indicates that public health campaigns focused on awareness and help seeking may benefit from having a more emotional focus, for example, including references to feelings, such as, fears and worries.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Cancer Care Research Centre, School of Health Sciences, University of Stirling, FK9 4LA, Stirling, UK. gill.hubbard@stir.ac.uk.

ABSTRACT

Background: Initiatives to promote early diagnosis include raising public awareness of signs and symptoms of cancer and addressing barriers to seeking medical help about cancer. Awareness of signs and symptoms of cancer and emotional barriers, such as fear, worry, and embarrassment, strongly influence help seeking behaviour. Whether anxiety influences seeking medical help about cancer is not known. The purpose of this study about adolescents was to examine: 1) the relationship between contextual factors and awareness of signs and symptoms of cancer and barriers (including emotional barriers) to seeking medical help, and 2) associations between anxiety and endorsed barriers to seeking medical help. Interpretation of data is informed by the common sense model of the self-regulation of health and illness.

Methods: A cross-sectional study of 2,173 Scottish adolescents (age 12/13 years) using the Cancer Awareness Measure. Socio-demographic questions were also included. Descriptive statistics were calculated and two Poisson regression models were built to determine independent predictors of: 1) the number of cancer warning signs recognized, and; 2) number of barriers to help seeking endorsed.

Results: Analysis identified that knowing someone with cancer was a significant independent predictor of recognising more cancer warning signs whereas Black and Minority Ethnic status was a significant independent predictor of recognising fewer cancer warning signs. Emotional barriers were the most commonly endorsed, followed by family, service and practical barriers. Over two thirds of adolescents were 'worried about what the doctor would find' and over half were 'scared'. Higher anxiety scores, knowing more cancer warning signs and female gender were significant independent predictors of barriers to help seeking.

Conclusion: Improving cancer awareness and help seeking behaviour during adolescence may contribute to early presentation. Contextual factors (for example, ethnicity, gender, knowing someone with cancer), and emotional dimensions (for example, anxiety, fear, worry) are critical components in help seeking behaviours. The role of emotional factors indicates that public health campaigns focused on awareness and help seeking may benefit from having a more emotional focus, for example, including references to feelings, such as, fears and worries.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus