UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Sociodemographics and their impacts on risk factor awareness and beliefs about cancer and screening: results from a cross-sectional study in Newfoundland and Labrador Shi, Fuyan; Shaver, Lance G; Kong, Yujia; Yi, Yanqing; Aubrey-Bassler, Kris; Asghari, Shabnam; Etchegary, Holly; Adefemi, Kazeem; Wang, Peizhong P


Background: Our objective was to examine cancer risk factor awareness and beliefs about cancer treatment, outcomes, and screening, and how these are mediated by sociodemographic variables, among Newfoundland and Labrador residents. Methods: Participants aged 35 to 74 were recruited through Facebook advertising, and a self-administered online questionnaire was used to collect data. Descriptive statistics, Spearman rank correlations, and multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed. Results: Of the 1048 participants who responded and met the inclusion criteria for this study, 1019 were selected for this analysis. Risk factor recognition was generally good, though several risk factors had poor awareness: being over 70 years old (53.4% respondents aware), having a low-fiber diet (65.0%), and drinking more than 1 unit of alcohol per day (62.8%). Our results showed that the participants’ awareness of risk factors was significantly associated with higher income level (rs = 0.237, P <  0.001), higher education (rs = 0.231, P <  0.001), living in rural regions (rs = 0.163, P <  0.001), and having a regular healthcare provider (rs = 0.081, P = 0.010). Logistic regression showed that among NL residents in our sample, those with higher income, post-secondary education, those in very good or excellent health, and those with a history of cancer all had higher odds of having more positive beliefs about cancer treatment and outcomes. Those with a history of cancer, and those with very good or excellent health, also had higher odds of having more positive beliefs about cancer screening. Finally, compared to Caucasian/white participants, those who were non-Caucasian/white had lower odds of having more positive beliefs about cancer screening. Conclusion: Among adults in NL, there was poor awareness that low-fiber diets, alcohol, and age are risk factors for cancer. Lower income and education, rural residence, and not having a health care provider were associated with lower risk factor awareness. We also found a few associations between sociodemographic factors and beliefs about cancer treatment and outcomes or screening. We stress that while addressing awareness is necessary, so too is improving social circumstances of disadvantaged groups who lack the resources necessary to adopt healthy behaviours.

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