Religious, Cultural, and Social Beliefs of Iranian Rural Women about Breast Cancer: A Qualitative Study

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Iman Ghaderi
Ahmad Kaviani
Elham Fakhrejahani
Neda Mehrdad
Narjes Hazar
Mojgan Karbakhsh


Qualitative Research, Community Surveys, Health Care System, Culture, Religion


Background: The purpose of this study was to examine religious, cultural, and social beliefs of healthy women about breast cancer in rural settings in Iran.

Methods: In the present study, 16 in-depth interviews with health care leaders, social and religious experts and 11 focus group discussions were conducted with 79 women in the rural areas near the capital city of Tehran, Iran. Grounded theory model was used to analyze the data.

Results: Some women believed that religious customs and rituals, such as praying, taking a vow, or going on a pilgrimage to a holy place, might have healing effects if performed in addition to seeking medical care medical care. Many believed that God intervenes in the entire course of any illness, from occurrence to cure. Although few had fatalistic views toward cancer, the majority believed that patients could try to change their destiny. With respect to the relationship between moral behavior and disease,  4  types  of  opinions  were  identified; good  people  suffer,  evil  people  get punished,  evil  people  do  not  suffer,  and  everything has  a  scientific  explanation. Participants believed that self-perception, their husbands, deficiencies in the health care system, and financial concerns influence breast cancer outcome.

Conclusions: Our study showed that many participants were not aware of any available support in the healthcare system. They generally believed in the healing effect of prayers, only when it is sought in parallel with medical care.

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