Saturday, June 15, 2024

Study Suggests Link between Fatalistic Attitude and Low Rate of Cancer Screenings among Hispanic Women

A new study suggests that the low rate of cancer screenings among Hispanic women may be due to a fatalistic attitude among Latinas that cancer is not preventable and a diagnosis will almost surely lead to death.

The researchers found that Hispanic women often forgo life-saving cancer screening services out of this belief, which they are much more likely to hold as a group than white women.

Researchers Karla Espinosa de los Monteros and Linda Gallo from San Diego State University, concluded a strong statistical link to back up this theory after reviewing 11 studies that examined the association between Hispanic women’s fatalism and their screening rates for cervical, breast and colorectal cancer.

The women in the studies were asked to what extent they agreed or disagreed with statements such as “cancer is like a death sentence,” and “there is little that I can do to prevent cancer,” etc.

“Improving our understanding of the importance of fatalism in explaining underutilization of cancer screening services among Latinas may drive the development of more effective and culturally appropriate interventions to reduce ethnic disparities in cancer,” said the authors.

The International Journal of Behavioral Medicine is scheduled to publish the study in their online edition.



  1. Susan Gonzalez Baker says

    I’ll be eager to read what looks like a “meta-study” or study of studies on this issue of “fatalism” and the association it has to health care practices. I suspect, or at least hope, that these authors will pay sufficient attention to the issues of appropriateness of care and, most importantly, SIMPLE ACCESS to the health care system as part of the explanation for Latina agreement with statements like “cancer is a death sentence.” Calling this cultural fatalism may divert our attention from the fact that this attitude is pretty accurate in a population so poorly covered by health insurance and thus so constrained in access to life-saving cancer interventions. As a sociologist, I do admit and teach that cultures vary and that if they vary, we must be honest about the variations we observe, but we must always be extremely cautious in attributing practices that damage a population to their culture rather than turning the lens on the social STRUCTURES like the health care system and how those structures shape cultural beliefs, particularly when we are dealing with minority groups within a population. Just a word of concern from one who seeks at all costs to avoid unnecessary “blaming the victim” that absolves the social institutions like the health care system from shrugging its shoulders and failing to do anything meaningful about self-assessment and revision of its own practices.


  1. […] Medicine entitled: The relevance of fatalism in the study of Latina’s cancer screening behavior. The study was conducted by Karl Espinosa de los Monteros and Linda Gallo from San Diego State University. The […]