Black women's awareness of breast cancer disparity and perceptions of the causes of disparity

Karen Kaiser*, Kenzie A. Cameron, Gina Curry, Melinda Stolley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Black women face the greatest breast cancer mortality burden of any racial or ethnic group in the United States. Breast cancer disparity is particularly pronounced in Chicago, where Black women were 62 percent more likely to die of breast cancer than their White counterparts in 2007. No work to date has examined views of disparity among a population living in the context of a large, well-documented, and grave health disparity. We examined (1) awareness of breast cancer disparities among Black women in Chicago; and (2) Black women's perceptions of the causes of breast cancer disparity. Four focus groups with Black women were held in Chicago. Participants completed a brief survey about their views of breast cancer prior to the group discussion. In response to the survey question, "In your opinion, who is more likely to die from breast cancer?" 51 % of participants believed all women have the same chance of dying from breast cancer. In focus group discussions, participants placed responsibility for disparity on individual behaviors and community culture. Participants believed that disparity resulted from Black women's lack of awareness of cancer screening and their failure to be screened or treated for breast cancer. The majority of participants were unaware of breast cancer mortality disparities. Moreover, while health researchers and professionals believe disparity in Chicago results from healthcare system inequalities, Black women largely viewed breast cancer disparity as a consequence of individual behaviors, knowledge and attitudes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)766-772
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Community Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2013


  • Breast cancer
  • Health disparity
  • Race
  • Social determinants of health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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