Rural Populations’ Sources of Cancer Prevention and Health Promotion Information


Purpose: Rural residents are less likely to engage in cancer risk-reduction behaviors than their urban counterparts. Rural cancer disparities may be related to limited access to and comprehension of cancer-related health information. The object of this study was to identify how rural residents access and understand cancer health promotion and prevention information.

Sample: Twenty-seven residents of Central Virginia

Methods: We used a qualitative design with semi-structured interviews and a focus group (n=27) with rural and non-rural residents living in Central Virginia to accomplish the study aim.

Findings: Four themes were identified from the data: 1) non-rural Central Virginia residents seek health information from a variety of electronic sources, 2) rural Central Virginia residents typically seek health care information directly from health care professionals, 3) residents throughout Central Virginia encounter confusing health care information, and 4) rural residents report incorrect cancer-related information.

Conclusions: Lack of internet access coupled with healthcare shortages may limit the ability of rural residents to contextualize and verify inaccurate health information. Nurses serving a rural population should consider assessing each rural patient’s internet access and disseminating printed cancer health promotion materials to rural clients without internet access.

Keywords: rural health; healthcare disparities; access to care; cancer health promotion; health literacy; cancer


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