African Americans; knowledge; beliefs; cancer information; health belief model; HINTS data


Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the United States, taking the lives of one in four Americans each year (American Cancer Society [ACS], 2015). A total of 1,658,370 new cancer cases and 589,430 deaths from cancer were projected to occur in the United States in 2015 (ACS, 2015). In 2013, approximately 176,630 new cancer cases and 64,880 deaths from cancer were projected to occur in African American communities. The majority of diagnoses were cancers of the prostate, lung, colon, rectum, breast, and colorectal region (ACS, 2013). For most cancers, African Americans have the highest death rate, and shortest survival rate, of any racial or ethnic sub-groups (ACS, 2013). Individual perception, knowledge, beliefs, and awareness systems can influence the cancer evaluation process and the ability to fight the disease. The health belief model (HBM) is a conceptual framework used to explain an individual’s behavior based on the individual’s belief or perception. This paper reports on an analysis of a sample of self-identified African American respondents to the Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS) data HINT4 cycle3, to explore an association of African Americans’ knowledge, beliefs and the processes of cancer information-seeking behavior based on the HBM and demographic information. The results showed that African Americans with a higher level of education were significantly more likely to access common sources of cancer information. Perceived benefits and cues-to-action were significantly associated with the common sources of cancer information sought whereas perceived susceptibility, perceived severity, perceived barrier, and self-efficacy were not. African Americans’ perceptions and beliefs of cancer may be enhanced through health education, mass media campaigns, and a wider availability of health information online.


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