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Hispanics Don't Benefit from Online Cancer Info

New America Media, News Report, Viji Sundaram Posted: Feb 16, 2009

The majority of Hispanics in the United States tend not to seek cancer information from any source, and those who do, dont understand what they find, according to a study released Monday by the National Cancer Institute.

What is concerning is we know that they experience health disparities, but this study suggests that they will continue to experience it, said Julie Kornfeld, program director of the NCI Cancer Information Service, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

Kornfeld led a team that analyzed NCIs first Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS) of 2005. HINTS was created to monitor changes in the rapidly evolving field of health communication.

For the study, NCI surveyed, in both English and Spanish, 5,586 people, including Hispanics and non-Hispanics.

The survey data revealed that information-seeking among Hispanics was low. Just how low depended on their English fluency. For instance, 37 percent of English-speaking Hispanics and 17 percent of Spanish-speaking Hispanics say they have looked for information about cancer, compared with 52 percent of non-Hispanics.

Among Spanish-speaking Hispanics, 67 percent said their last search for cancer information took a lot of effort, 55 percent said the information was hard to understand, and 58 percent had concerns about the quality of the information they found.

Non-Hispanics were more pleased with their information-seeking experience, with only 35 percent of them saying their last search took a lot of effort, and 22 percent saying that the nformation was hard to understand.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 44 million individuals in the United Sates identify themselves as being Hispanic, and 28.1 million people speak Spanish as their primary language.

Researchers point out that using the Internet to put out information may not be the best method of outreaching to immigrant communities. The survey found that only 21 percent of the Spanish-speaking population said they were Internet savvy, compared with 66 percent of non-Hispanics and 58 percent of English-speaking Hispanics.

The study shows we need to give information in a more linguistically and culturally appropriate way, Kornfeld said.

In 2006, there were 82,000 new cases of cancer among Hispanics. Of them, 23,000 died from the disease.

On a related note, research by the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, shows that most breast cancers in Hispanic women are detected by self-exam, despite high rates of screening mammography in this population.

The study shows that two-thirds of breast cancers in Hispanic women are detected by self-exam; only 23 percent are diagnosed by mammography and another 6 percent through a clinical exam.

But whats worrisome, researchers say, is that half of all women who noticed an abnormality during a self-exam waited at least a month before seeing a doctor.

Spanish speakers can get information on the disease from the Internet at http://www.cancer.gov/espanol, or they can speak with an NCI cancer information specialist in Spanish by calling 1-800-4-CANCER.

Related Articles:

Immigrants Gain Right to Medical Interpreters

Lost in Translation: Hospitals Fail to Provide Interpreters

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