Background: Outcomes of breast cancer are affected by ethnicity, age, socioeconomic status, religious affiliation, medical preferences and more. The purpose of this study was to examine the breast cancer experience through the lens of the Health Belief Model to uncover support successes, failures, differences in care, and its connection to behavioral and mental health in the diverse population of the Cayman Islands.
Methods: Twenty-five participants volunteered to engage in semi-structured interviews and qualified for this qualitative phenomenological study with a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment provided by the Cayman Islands healthcare networks. The interview questions informed the targeted research questions, and the resultant data was examined for meaningful thematic units that encompassed the breast cancer experience in the Cayman Islands.
Results: The correlation between cultural identity and behavioral and mental health was evident in diagnosis and treatment. Participant behavior and action was influenced by the perceived threat of breast cancer, self-efficacy, belief in ability to face the challenges, and trust in treatment protocols and professionals. Results of this study emphasized the need for individualized, culturally sensitive care across age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and religion.
Conclusion: Significant concerns were identified in the need to support breast cancer thrivers in survivorship, managing expectations of self and others, finding meaning in individual experiences, supporting behavioral health changes, managing and understanding the emotional and psychological experiences in breast cancer, and continuing efforts to support all segments of any population in the areas of prevention and early identification.
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