J Womens Health (Larchmt) 2019 Apr 27;28(4):444-451. Epub 2018 Nov 27.
13 Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia.
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.