Rural Women’s Perceptions About Cancer Disparities and Contributing Factors: a Call to Communication

Yamile Molina, Kristine Zimmermann, Leslie R. Carnahan, Ellen Paulsey, Cabral A. Bigman, Manorama M. Khare, Whitney Zahnd, Wiley D. Jenkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rural cancer disparities are increasingly documented in the USA. Research has identified and begun to address rural residents’ cancer knowledge and behaviors, especially among women. Little, however, is known about rural female residents’ awareness of cancer inequities and perceived contributing factors affecting them and their families. The purpose of this study was to address these gaps in the literature via a secondary analysis of qualitative needs assessment in Illinois’ rural southernmost seven counties, a geographic region with relatively high rates of cancer incidence, morbidity, and mortality. A convenience sample of 202 rural adult female residents was recruited and participated in 26 focus groups, with 3–13 women per group. Inductive content analysis, guided by the principle of constant comparison, was used to analyze the qualitative data. Most respondents indicated their awareness of disproportionate cancer burden in their communities. Individual-level behaviors and environmental toxins were identified as contributing factors. Interestingly, however, environmental toxins were more often discussed as factors contributing to geographic differences, whereas individual-level behaviors were noted as important for overall cancer prevention and control. This study provides important insight into female rural residents’ perspectives and offers novel venues for educational programs and research in the context of communication to eliminate disparities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)749-756
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Cancer Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018


  • Cancer behaviors
  • Cancer disparities
  • Environmental toxins
  • Incidence
  • Rural

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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