Date of Conferral





Public Health


Bernice R. Kennedy


Breast cancer is a global public health issue, and even though the incidence and mortality rates for this disease have declined, a substantial gap in mortality rates between U.S. women of color and European American women remains. Strategies have been initiated to decrease this gap, but they have not addressed the special needs of women of color residing in the United States, who tend to be diagnosed only after they have developed late-stage breast cancer. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to understand the perceptions and behaviors of 20 first-generation Caribbean and South American-born women of color living in Atlanta, Georgia, related to breast cancer awareness, screening, treatment, and follow-up care. Qualitative data analysis was used to identify themes that included, but were not limited to, the role of genes in breast cancer, lifestyle influences and risk of breast cancer, environmental factors, positive perceptions of foods and their impact on breast health, the role of culture on health care decisions, fear of harm from radiation exposure, familial relationships, understanding why they sought screening and/or treatment, and familial health histories and increased risk of breast cancer. The participants' cues to take action were influenced by knowledge, health insurance coverage, confidence, educational attainment, age, income, family support, and self-motivation. Culture, race, or ethnicity had little to no effect on whether the women received breast cancer screening or mammography. The findings could facilitate social change by educating Caribbean and South American women of color in the United States about breast cancer and the need for screening, to reduce the incidence of breast cancer and the mortality rates among the target population and improving their quality of life.