Understanding Cultural Factors in Cancer Screening

Investigator: Alexis Abernethy
Research Fellow: Leah Fortson, MA
Student Investigators: Nathaniel Flores, Garret Shumaker, MA

Project Description

Dr. Abernethy and her students are analyzing data from the study, “Understanding Cultural Factors in Cancer Screening,” that was funded by the National Cancer Institute ($206,397). The study involved a two-phased exploration into the cultural factors among 373 African American men that facilitate and impede colorectal and prostate cancer screening. We are seeking to identify religiously based illness perceptions of cancer screening and examine the associations among religious factors, fatalism, illness perceptions, and colorectal and prostate cancer screening behavior. This research team has also published data from an earlier study of Religiousness and Cancer Screening funded by the California Cancer Research Program.


Christman, L. K., Abernethy, A. D., Gorsuch, R. L., & Brown, A.W. (2014) Intrinsic Religiousness as a mediator between fatalism and cancer-specific fear: Clarifying the role of fear in prostate cancer screening. Journal of Religion and Health, 53 (3), 760-772.

Hay, J., Harris, J. N., Waters, E. A., Clayton, M. F., Ellington, L., Abernethy, A. D., & Prayor-Patterson H. (2009). Personal communication in primary and secondary cancer prevention: Evolving discussions, emerging challenges. Journal of Health Communication, 14 (Suppl 1), 18-29. doi:10.1080/10810730902806828.

Abernethy, A. D., Houston, T. R., Bjorck, J. P., Gorsuch, R. L., & Arnold, H. (2009). Religiousness and prostate cancer screening in African American men. Journal of Psychosocial Oncology, 27 (3), 316-331. doi:10.1080/07347330902979036.

Abernethy, A. D., Houston, T. R., Magat, M. M., Arnold, H., Gorsuch, R. L., & Bjorck, J. P. (2005). Recruiting African American men in cancer screening studies: Applying a culturally-based model. Health Education and Behavior, 32(4), 441-451. doi:10.1177/1090198104272253.


Abernethy, A. D., Brown, S., Leaks, B., Johnson, D., Christman, L., & Gorsuch, R. (2010, April). Illness perceptions and cancer screening: Clarifying the role of supernatural and fatalistic perspectives. Poster presented at the 30th Annual Meeting of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, Seattle, WA.

Abernethy, A. D., Brown, S., Johnson, D., Christman, L., Leaks, B., Allocco, P., & Gorsuch, R. (2008, March). Clarifying common and unique dimensions of spirituality and fatalism in threat representations of cancer: Implications for cancer prevention. Poster presented at the 28th Annual Meeting of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, San Diego, CA.

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