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East Afr J Public Health. 2007 Apr;4(1):19-22.

Health seeking behavior among cancer patients attending Ocean Road Cancer Institute, Tanzania.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health and Social Sciences, Muhimbili University College of Health Sciences, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.



To characterize cancer patients and to determine the associated health seeking behaviours.


Between September 2005 and February 2006, we collected data using structured and semi-structured interviews among new cancer patients attending the ORCI. Findings are summarized using univarite and bivariate analyses.


There were 330 cancer patients during the study period. The mean age was 48 (SD = 13.5) years ranging between 21 and 84 years. The majority, 205 (62.1%), were females. More than two thirds of all patients, that is 225 (68.2%), presented at the ORCI at advanced stages of disease. Many patients reported to have neither heard, 193 (58.5%), nor to know cancer symptoms, 203 (61.5%). Only 185 (56.1%) of all patients reported their willingness to disclose and a freedom to talk about the disease. Risk factors for cancer staging were sex, patient's education status, awareness and knowledge of disease symptoms.


Interventions targeted to improve health care seeking behaviour among cancer patients need to include health education and sensitization specifically of cancer disease, establish a strong referral mechanisms at primary health level and to start a population cancer registry for monitoring and evaluation purposes.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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