How African American Men Decide Whether or Not to Get Prostate Cancer Screening

Randy A. Jones, PhD, RN; Richard Steeves, PhD, RN, FAAN; Ishan Williams, PhD


Cancer Nurs. 2009;32(2):166-172. 

In This Article

The Necessity of Trust in Healthcare Providers

Trust in the patient-healthcare provider interaction was an important factor in whether or not the men decided to obtain prostate cancer screening. The men noted the importance of having good rapport with physicians and other healthcare providers, and most said that they trusted their primary physicians. Many said that if a physician had recommended them to get prostate cancer screening, they would have done it. Some men who had initially gone to their physician for something other than prostate cancer screening were told by their physician to get the screening while in the office and did so at that moment. When the researcher asked one participant how he decided that he would get prostate cancer screening done, the participant said,

I was not really thinking about prostate cancer screening. My relatives had prostate cancer. I am going forward with it [prostate cancer screening]. After talking to my doctor, he encouraged it, and I went to a doctor. My family encouraged it and because of my family history, I shared this with my doctor, and of course he, you know, said that we will do it [have a prostate cancer screening done].

Several previous studies[27,28] have found that race is an important factor in trust between the patient and healthcare provider, particularly among African Americans, who have tended to be less satisfied with physician visits than whites. In this study, the race of the healthcare provider was not a major factor in whether or not the patient trusted the physician. A trusting patient-healthcare provider relationship seemed to be based on how long the relationship had lasted and whether the healthcare provider seemed sincere about helping his patient. When one participant was asked whether the color of the physician mattered to him, he said,

It depends on the doctor and patient relationship. Like my doctor, he has been my doctor since I was six years old. Now, if he refers me to another doctor, I will be comfortable because I trust him.

Another man said,

I think if you go to the health center today, I figure they [healthcare providers] try to help everybody. They will try to tell you what you are [susceptible] to. You know, we are black people, and we get this [prostate cancer], and white people, they get leukemia. But I just think they try to help us all. When I go to the doctor, I do not figure there is discrimination about health services, as far as him being a white doctor. So I have no problem with it. I don't think there is discrimination. I think they try to do the best they can with everyone, regardless of their age, race, or whatever. I believe that is how most of the doctors and staff are, personally. I have never had problems with doctors or healthcare. So, I cannot say anything bad about them.

One other participant said,

No, it does not matter [what the race of the doctor is]... Most of my doctors were white.


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