The knowledge of cancer among the rural elderly


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The purpose of this study was to determine the knowledge level regarding cancer among the rural elderly. An extensive literature review revealed that little research has been done in this area. The present study was adapted from a previous study by Weinrich and Weinrich (1986). The research was descriptive in nature. A convenience sample was obtained from those elderly who utilized the Dorchester County Health Department, area MAC Centers, and attend the local AARP meetings. Fifty non-institutionalized elderly were included in the sample. Data was collected by a structured interview conducted by the researcher. The data was analyzed using the SPSSX Computer Program. Frequencies were computed for each item. Basic demographic data was examined to identify the demographic characteristics and health habits of the study population. The majority of the participants were black females. Basic education for a large percent was at the eighth grade level. A large proportion of the incomes reported were in the $2,500 - $7,999 range. Two survey tools were utilized to assess cancer knowledge. One was to determine how many if any of the cancer myths were believed by the study sample. A second scale was to identify if the elderly could distinguish cancer warning signs from aging symptoms. Results indicated that many people believe several of the cancer myths and many do not recognize the Seven Warning Signs of Cancer. Analysis of variance was used to look at the individual relationships between race, education, income, sex, age, and knowledge scores. Race, sex, and education were found to be the significant factors in knowledge scores. Stepwise multiple linear regression was used to identify the best predictors of cancer knowledge in the elderly age groups. A combination of education, sex, and income explained 56.0% of the variation in knowledge scores. The present study offers valuable information for the population surveyed and will hopefully serve as a stimulus for continued research.