An enquiry into cancer related knowledge, understanding and health seeking behaviour of men living in Muldersdrift, South Africa

Mgawi, Owens
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Background: Cancer is a public health problem worldwide (Globocan, 2012). In developing countries cancer is one of the three leading causes of death and responsible for 12.5% of all deaths. This is higher than the total combined number of deaths caused by HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria (WHO, 2012). According to South African National Cancer Registry data (2015), one in six South African men and one in seven South African women will get cancer during their lifetime little is known about the knowledge, understanding and health seeking behaviour of South African men pertaining to cancer. Objectives: The objectives of the study were to describe what men living in Muldersdrift, South Africa know and understand about cancer as well as their health seeking behaviour should they suspect that they might have cancer. Method: The setting was Ward 23, also known as Video, a poor resource area, in Muldersdrift. The convenience sampling method was used on a sample size of n=205. Data were collected by means of structured interviews and a questionnaire served as the data collection instrument. The data were analysed by means of descriptive statistics and the Chi-Square Test was used to calculate statistical significant differences between the variables. Results: The ages of the sample (n=205) ranged from 18 to above 60 years, the average age was 35, SD ± 24.6 and median 31 years. The highest percentage (21.5%; n=44) belonged to the Zulu cultural group and attended school up to Grade 11 to 12 (49.8%; n=102). Most were unemployed and unmarried. Approximately a third (32.7%; n=67) confirmed knowing what cancer is, 30.2% (n=62) did not know what cancer is; 37.1% (n=76) were unsure. Only 33.8% (n=45) of the respondents had ever been taught or made aware of cancer with radio being the major source of information. Most of the respondents (76.6%; n=157) had not gone for cancer screening. Conclusion: The study provided evidence that men living in the study setting had limited knowledge and understanding of cancer. Consistent with limited knowledge and understanding of cancer, the screening uptake among men was extremely low. Educational level was statistically significantly associated with knowledge of what cancer is. There is need to scale up health education to the community to enhance cancer related knowledge and understanding as well as improve health seeking behaviour.
A research report submitted in fulfilment for the degree of Masters of Science in Nursing to the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 2019