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The cultural and structural factors that hide information from women diagnosed with breast cancer: an ethnography.

Agyemang, L., Wagland, R., Foster, C., McLean, C. and Fenlon, D., 2021. The cultural and structural factors that hide information from women diagnosed with breast cancer: an ethnography. BMC Women's Health, 21, 364.

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DOI: 10.1186/s12905-021-01502-2


Background: Socio-cultural factors may infuence the uptake of breast cancer treatments. This study aimed to explore these socio-cultural infuences on treatment decision-making for women in Ghana. Method: An ethnographic approach was adopted. Observation was conducted of women newly diagnosed with breast cancer, nominated relatives, nurses and doctors at a breast clinic in Ghana. Semi-structured interviews followed participant observation. Thematic analysis was employed. Findings: Over 16 weeks (July 2017–November 2017), 31 participants were observed and 29 took part in semistructured interviews. Three overarching themes were identifed: (1) unequal power relationships; (2) Language barriers and (3) structural constraints. Following a breast cancer diagnosis, essential information necessary for treatment decision making is ‘hidden’ from women due to an unequal patient-provider relationship. Patients acknowledged cultural behaviours of deference to experts. Doctors deliberately misrepresented treatment information to women to encourage them to undergo surgical treatment. Structural issues such as the lack of privacy during consultations hindered quality patient engagement with decision-making. High treatment costs and the lack of resources to assist women with fertility after treatment impeded open discussions around these issues. Language barriers included a lack of terms in the local Twi language to explain cancer and its treatment. There was also an absence of appropriate information materials. Conclusion: Findings highlight the need for health professionals to be aware of the socio-cultural factors that limit access to quality information which is needed for informed treatment decision making. Policies that aim to provide adequate logistics; increase stafng levels; improve staf cultural awareness training and remove fnancial barriers are recommended.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Patient-provider relationships; Socio-cultural factors; Language barriers; Participant observation; Qualitative interviews; Ethnography, Decision-making
Group:Faculty of Health & Social Sciences
ID Code:38209
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:21 Jul 2023 08:20
Last Modified:21 Jul 2023 08:20


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