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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Predictors of cancer prevention and early detection counselling beliefs in naturopath and medical trainees : a comparative study Dale, Laura Chiaranna


Introduction: Research suggests that at least 50% of cancers could be prevented through lifestyle modifications including reductions in tobacco and alcohol, increases in physical activity, weight control, diet improvements, safer sex practices and sun protection (Colditz, Sellers, & Trapido, 2006). The early detection of cancer increases the chance of successful treatment of the disease. Health care providers in both the complementary and alternative medical and biomedical health systems can encourage patients to lead cancer free lifestyles. Health care students develop cancer-counselling beliefs during their training that may influence their future counselling practices. The main purpose of this study is to explore possible differences between naturopath and medical students’ counselling self-efficacy in terms of cancer prevention and early detection. Methods: A cross-sectional research design was employed for this study. Online surveys were administered to assess medical (n=121) and naturopath (n= 121) students’ cancer prevention and early detection beliefs. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed for each independent variable and the outcome variable. Odds ratios were calculated and their 95% confidence intervals were reported. Results: Significantly more naturopath (87%) than medical (45%) students believed that over 50% of cancers could be prevented. Naturopath students (89%) also expected to spend more time (>30 minutes) with their patients than medical students (3%). Naturopath students rated counselling on most cancer prevention and screening practices as more important, and they were more confident in their ability to counsel. Regardless of educational program, if students perceived cancer screening and prevention practices to be more important, they reported higher self-efficacy for counselling. No significant differences between students’ counselling self-efficacy was observed when controlling for educational program and potential confounders. Discussion: With cancer remaining the number one killer of Canadian adults, our future health care professionals must develop positive, evidence-based cancer prevention and early detection beliefs. Many similarities and differences were observed between medical and naturopath students and further investigations should examine the extent to which students’ beliefs predict counselling behaviours. There is a need for increased collaborative, educational research to encourage positive cancer prevention and screening beliefs in medical and naturopath students.

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