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Beliefs related to breast health practices: the perceptions of South Asian women living in Canada


  • Bottorff, Joan L.
  • Johnson, Joy L.
  • Bhagat, Radhika
  • Grewal, Sukhdev
  • Balneaves, Lynda G.
  • Clarke, Heather
  • Hilton, B. Ann


Breast cancer is becoming a major concern for many South Asian women. Clinical observations of women from a South Asian community living in Canada revealed an under use of early detection strategies. The purpose of this qualitative ethnoscience study was to examine breast health practices from the perspective of South Asian women to provide a foundation for the development of culturally suitable breast health services for this group. Open-ended interviews were conducted with a convenience sample of 50 South Asian women over the age of 30 who had not been diagnosed with breast cancer. Adequate representation of the main religious groups (i.e. Sikh, Hindu, Muslim and Christian) was ensured through sampling techniques. Analysis of translated interviews involved identification of themes and the development of a taxonomy to represent relationships among emerging cultural themes and domains. Four central domains of beliefs related to breast health practices were identified: beliefs about a woman's calling, beliefs about cancer, beliefs about taking care of your breasts and beliefs about accessing services. These beliefs hold important implications for how health promotion strategies should be structured and offered. In particular, attention must be paid to the language that is used to talk about breast cancer, the importance of the role of the family in women's health decisions and traditions related to using narratives to share information and advice.

Suggested Citation

  • Bottorff, Joan L. & Johnson, Joy L. & Bhagat, Radhika & Grewal, Sukhdev & Balneaves, Lynda G. & Clarke, Heather & Hilton, B. Ann, 1998. "Beliefs related to breast health practices: the perceptions of South Asian women living in Canada," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 47(12), pages 2075-2085, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:47:y:1998:i:12:p:2075-2085

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. James Ted McDonald & Angela Sherman, 2008. "Determinants of Mammography Usage across Rural and Urban Regions of Canada," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 238, McMaster University.


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