Dr. Kelcy T. Walker, Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health and Exercise Science within the School of Math, Science and Public Health recently presented research at the Annual Public Health Association’s Annual Meeting & Expo in Atlanta, GA. This annual meeting brings over 12,000 public health professionals from across United States and other countries.
Dr. Walker’s research, “Unraveling Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Among Insured African American Men and Women” was selected by APHA for poster presentation in the Cancer Forum Poster Session 5: Disparities in Cancer Screening, Outcomes and Care.
This action research study explored the perceptions of screening beliefs for colorectal cancer among insured, African American men and women who were age-appropriate for screening but who had not completed it. Nine men and women were recruited from three predominantly African American churches in North Carolina. The goal of this qualitative research study was to gain in-depth understanding of the health beliefs related to screening recommendations for colorectal cancer among African American men and women who had never engaged in any form of screening for colorectal cancer previously.
This study sought to elicit dialogue with participants about their reasons to delay or refuse this preventive screening. To gain insight, the researcher collected data through one-on-one interviews using a health beliefs model framework (Rosenstock, 1966). This approach explored the viewpoints and perceptions of African Americans as to their reasons for not completing this highly publicized (Colorectal Cancer Statistics, 2016), and highly effective preventive care screening (ACS, 2016).
A number of health belief themes emerged regarding why screening for colorectal cancer was delayed or refused by African American men and women for whom it was appropriate, including: a lack of knowledge about colorectal cancer screening, a perception of a lack of physician engagement in the process, the lack of culturally appropriate care availability, a belief in greater vulnerability to developing cancer among certain populations, a belief in a relationship between poor diet and colorectal cancer, fear about the screening procedure itself, and lastly, fear of cancer diagnosis.
The University is thrilled to have distinguished faculty such as Dr. Walker who continue to push their fields of research further while inspiring the students of Saint Augustine's University.