Date of Conferral
Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)
Cancer incidence is high for aging minority and underserved populations, yet research is limited about patient-provider communications with aging racial and ethnic minority populations. Achieving high-quality cancer care is crucial to reducing health disparities for this population. However, potential shortages in professional health personnel, the cost to treat cancer, a strained health care system, and large aging populations contribute to the problem. The purpose of this qualitative study was to understand the personal experiences of aging minorities during cancer treatment decision making when communicating with their cancer care providers. Purposive sampling methods were used to recruit 10 minority women and men born between 1946 and 1964 who had experienced communicating with providers and making cancer treatment decisions. In-depth semi-structured interviews and thematic analysis of qualitative data was conducted. Important findings were barriers related to miscommunication with providers, the need for more time with the cancer doctor, and mistrust of the medical profession. Participants perceived poor interpersonal communication with providers as causing a lack of understanding regarding their cancer treatment options, which affected their decision making regarding their treatment. Barriers to communication included long wait times at public or teaching health care systems for follow up cancer care services. The findings of this study could be useful to assist health care providers in improving communication with their cancer patients, reducing cancer health disparities, and increasing the quality of cancer care for this population.