Date of Conferral



Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


Public Health


Richard Palmer


Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer mortality in the United States, especially among African Americans, who have the lowest survival rate from this disease among all racial/ethnic groups. The aim of this qualitative study was to investigate how family support and religion/faith influence patients' decisions about seeking treatment for lung cancer. This study was guided by the medical decision-making model and used a phenomenological approach. Data were collected from male and female lung cancer patients (n = 15) who were being treated in a thoracic and cardiovascular surgery clinic in Greensboro, North Carolina using semi-structured interviews. All participants were between the ages of 18 and 75 years and spoke English, and were questioned how they made their decisions about seeking lung cancer treatment. The main themes were patients' lack of knowledge about the disease, treatment, and the length of time to live; patients' financial anxieties; the role of faith, prayer, and religion related to treatment decision-making; confidence in the physician for medical advice; and the role of emotional and financial support from family, including the church family. The study findings provide valuable information that can be used by medical and public health professionals in helping patients make medical decisions for lung cancer treatment. Further, these findings have considerable social change merits because they provide needed information about how African American patients evaluate seeking treatment for lung cancer, which can be used to develop decision-making aids and to help better facilitate communication between health care providers and patients.