Examining the Family Support Role of Older Hispanics, African Americans, and Non-Hispanic Whites and Their Breast Cancer Screening Behaviors

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Social Work in Public Health

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Disparities in breast cancer mortality rates among older Black and Hispanic women are due in part to low participation in cancer screening. Participation in cancer screening could be affected by an array of factors, including social support. Understanding the complex interplay between social support and breast cancer screening among older female adults, specifically among groups with higher mortality rates, is extremely important for timely and appropriate interventions to increase survival rates. Thus, utilizing the social network theory as the conceptual framework, this study aims to examine effects of social support on receiving a mammogram among a representative sample of older adults, specifically African American and Hispanic populations in the United States. Logistic regression models were conducted using the 2008 and 2012 Health and Retirement Study data. Findings from this study indicate that specific aspects of social support influence breast cancer screening participation among older Hispanic and non-Hispanic White women. However, this was not the case for the older Black women after adjusting for the sociodemographic factors. Given the role that family members play in the care of older adults, it is critical that social workers consider both the possible positive and negative interactions older women may have and how these interactions may affect their cancer screening behaviors. Findings can provide formative data to develop public health and social work interventions to increase positive social support and reduce negative social support by spouses and children to enhance breast cancer screening among older adults.


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At the time of publication, Mitra Naseh was employed at Florida International University.



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