Spirituality and Cancer ScreeningAlexis Abernethy, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychology, Fuller Graduate School of Psychology, Pasadena, California
This study involves African American men and identifying religiously based illness perceptions of cancer screening including relationships among religious factors, fatalism, illness perceptions, and colorectal and prostate cancer screening behavior. Long-term goals include the development of culturally competent interventions for different ethnic groups that target cultural factors and perspectives.
Dr. Abernethy and her students are conducting a study, “Understanding Cultural Factors in Cancer Screening,” that is funded by the National Cancer Institute ($206,397). The study involves a two-phased exploration into the cultural factors among African American men that facilitate and impede colorectal and prostate cancer screening. The qualitative phase involves focus groups of clergy and interviews of African American men to identify key themes related to religious attributions about cancer. The second phase examines the relationship between religious and fatalistic attributions regarding cancer and cancer screening behavior and attitudes in 450 African American men. Abernethy’s research makes an important contribution by focusing on cultural factors, religiousness, and fatalism that have been examined more frequently in African American women than African American men. Long-term goals are to conduct research guided by theoretical frameworks that incorporate cultural perspectives, identify culturally relevant factors related to health behavior in different ethnic groups, understand what mechanisms explain these associations, and develop culturally competent interventions.
During the past two years, I have had an amazing opportunity to work as a research fellow alongside Dr. Alexis Abernethy and the other members of the Cancer Research Team. Throughout the process I have become more confident in my research and leadership skills, as my role as research fellow forced me to step out of my comfort zone. In addition, as an African American male, the opportunity to research African American males from every walk of life was especially rewarding. Throughout our research, I felt as though we really impacted lives and provided valuable information to the African American community. I have also grown both professionally and personally as a result of my experiences with Dr. Abernethy and the team, and the relationships that have been formed will hopefully carry on into the future.
Broderick Leaks, 5th year student (January 2008)