Compare and Contrast at Least 5 Cultural or Ethnic Beliefs in the Treatment of Cancer Term Paper

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Treatment of Cancer

Cultural and Ethnical Related

Beliefs in the Treatment of Cancer

Healthcare disparities among cultural or ethnic lines have been shown to not be as totally unbalanced burdens from disease, disability or death. Particular populations or groups when compared to the majority of the population are at an obvious disadvantage but not as wide a gap as they would have you believe. "Racial or ethnic differences in the quality of health care are not due to access-related factors or clinical needs, preferences and appropriateness of intervention." (Smedley, Stith, & Nelson, 2002) The true problem is that there are unique cultural and ethnic beliefs that could be affecting the overall care these groups receive. This report will attempt to compare and contrast at least five cultural or ethnic beliefs in the treatment of cancer to see if those beliefs do in fact affect the overall care received.

The treatment of cancer has various approaches and program objectives vary. There is no one system for the treatment of cancer that works every time. But, is there a clear distinction that there is a healthcare related disparity among segments or subpopulations of the total population? The treatment of cancer must take into consideration each individual case to ensure that the terminology, comparison population, health areas, and segments of the population are treated equally in the treatment of the disease as a whole.

The first cultural belief this report focuses on are the very successful results of clinical trials in the treatment of cancer that may never be applied to minority groups. Cultural and minority groups have been shown to not completely understand the significance of cancer related clinical trials and can even follow the belief that they would be guinea pigs if they participated even after it could be demonstrated that participants of clinical trials receive excellent medical care. Often, these cultural or minority groups are simply not aware that clinical trials are even an option in the treatment of cancer or they simply do not understand how a clinical trial works.

A second belief is that there is a huge disparity between the healthcare treatment defined by the socioeconomic status, age, geographic area, gender, race or ethnicity, language, customs and other cultural factors in the treatment of cancer. The report reviews cancer related literature to see if there is truth to those beliefs in regard to disparities of treatment.

A third cultural or ethnic belief this report addresses is the meaning of disease related death and how one culture accepts death as opposed to other cultures. How certain factions of the population integrate healthcare into their religion for example affects the healthcare system's ability to treat patients. The treatment of cancer is directly affected by the secular schools of thought. Cultural beliefs directly affected by faith-based treatments such as Anglican, Catholic, or Jewish may not be accepted by the Muslim philosophy for example so the charge of healthcare discrimination may apply by this way of thinking.

A forth cultural and minority related belief that this report addresses is the treatment men and women receive in regard to cancer. The question of minorities and other cultural breakdowns considering the gender role as a clear disparity line in the treatment of cancer. And finally, the final belief that is addressed is if disease management programs are fair in the treatment of cancer for minorities and culturally diverse groups?

'Contemporary data irrefutably confirm the existence of an African-American health crisis by documenting unnecessary and preventable deaths, along with excesses in essentially every measurable health status, services delivery and outcome measure. Yet this crisis falls on deaf ears." (Fedigan, 2004) There are many misconceptions around health and health care in the United States. Healthcare disparities among cultural or ethnic lines may simply be misunderstandings that could easily be addressed if the myths are looked at statistically to show if there is merit. The disease of cancer does not distinguish if one cultural group should be affected more than any other so the healthcare system should not provide an unbalanced recovery system based on cultural or minority myths or beliefs.

Table Contents



Table of Contents


Chapter One:



Nature of the problem


Background and Significance


Purpose of Project


Chapter Two:



Review of the Literature


Present Status of Topic


Summary Statements


Chapter Three:

Methodology and Procedures


Procedure Used to Find Information


Chapter Four:



Testing Information


Chapter Five:











Cultural and Ethnical Related

Beliefs in the Treatment of Cancer

Chapter One


In the United States there will be approximately one half of a million people each year who are expected to die from the disease we know as cancer. That works out to be around fifteen hundred people per day. Cancer is the second leading cause of death after heart disease and accounts for a quarter of our nation's deaths annually. Death may be one aspect of the disease, but there are also around one point three million new cancer cases diagnosed annually.

As devastating a disease as caner is and as widespread the threat continues to be for Americans, its impact is felt disproportionately by racial and ethnic minorities. "Historically, the major sources of complexity in managing health services organizations (HSOs) have come from the regulatory, fiscal, and political forces in the external environment. To be effective, however, managers must have a basic understanding of the implications of cultural, ethnic, and religious diversity, as the number of Americans whose culture, ethnicity, and religion differ from those of the American mainstream increases." (Darr, 2002)

The aspects of these healthcare related disparities by racial and ethnic minorities have obvious resource implications. The lack of consistency between segments of the population when treating cancer may or may not be factual. Cultural beliefs lead to inconsistency between funding priorities and program objectives in all aspects of the healthcare community.

This report attempts to compare and contrast five cultural or ethnic beliefs in the treatment of cancer. The cultural beliefs addressed in this report focus how minorities and other cultural groups relate to cancer treatment clinical trials; the disparity between the healthcare treatment for cancer based on the socioeconomic status, age, geographic area, race or ethnicity, language, customs and other cultural factors in the treatment of cancer; how certain factions of the population integrate healthcare into their religion; how cultural and minority related beliefs relate to the treatment of cancer and gender roles; and how disease management programs can help in the treatment of cancer for minorities and culturally diverse groups.

Cultural and ethnic beliefs create disparity that is often times too influential in the decision making process of the public health system. Confusion often arises by the various cultural and minority-based subgroups and health organizations that keep those most in need from receiving the treatments that could help in the recovery from diseases like cancer.

The fact that there is a clear disparity in the treatment of cancer based on cultural and minority beliefs should set off bells and whistles that something is wrong in our healthcare industry. "This means that the expectations and needs of diverse staff and, as important, the various patients treated in HSOs must be understood and met to the greatest extent possible." (Darr, 2002)

Since cultural and ethnic beliefs create disparity in the treatment of cancer and the healthcare industry as whole, healthcare community policy makers and cultural and ethnic public leaders should get together to attempt to eliminate these issues of disparity. It is not fair to allow those suffering from cancer yet who are uninformed of their options to suffer because of their beliefs. There should be a direct allocation of resources to address the problems faced by those uninformed individuals.

Nature of the problem

Hospitals and clinics are in the process of meeting the special needs of patients by providing translators and utilizing non-English signage, and even in the way of providing cultural dietary requirements. But the ethnic and cultural beliefs have increased as the types of diversity have expanded in suburban and rural communities. Hospitals therefore need to respond appropriately. There are definite cultural and ethnic beliefs that reduce the possibility of those suffering with cancer from receiving what has been viewed as successful treatment programs for the disease.

The cultural beliefs addressed here show that minorities and other cultural groups do not fully utilize cancer treatment clinical trials; they feel that the treatment of cancer is different depending on the socioeconomic status, age, geographic area, race or ethnicity and language; they feel that certain religions are treated differently and is a major indicator on the overall treatment of cancer; they feel how cultural and minority groups treat the gender roles will provide a unique approach to the treatment of cancer; and they are not fully aware of disease management programs because of their minority and cultural beliefs.

Background and Significance

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