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Psychooncology. 2013 Mar;22(3):605-13. doi: 10.1002/pon.3041. Epub 2012 Feb 16.

Public attitudes toward cancer and cancer patients: a national survey in Korea.

Author information

1
Cancer Education Center, Samsung Comprehensive Cancer Center, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea. jcho@jhsph.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Regardless of improved survival rate, negative images and myths about cancer still abound. Cancer stigma may reduce patients' life opportunities resulting in social isolation, decreased level of emotional well-being, and poor health outcomes. This study was aimed to evaluate public attitudes toward cancer and cancer patients and people's willingness to disclose cancer diagnosis in South Korea.

METHODS:

A cross-sectional survey was conducted in August and September 2009. A nationally representative sample of 1011 men and women with no history of cancer was recruited. A set of 12 questions grouped into three domains (impossibility of recovery, cancer stereotypes, and discrimination) was used to assess public attitudes toward cancer.

RESULTS:

It was found 58.5% of study participants agreed that it is impossible to treat cancer regardless of highly developed medical science, 71.8% agreed that cancer patients would not be able to make contributions to society, and 23.5% agreed that they would avoid working with persons who have cancer. The proportions of people who said that that they would not disclose a cancer diagnosis to family, friends or neighbors, or coworkers were 30.2%, 47.0%, and 50.7%, respectively. Negative attitudes toward cancer were strongly associated with lower willingness to disclose a cancer diagnosis.

CONCLUSIONS:

Negative attitudes, stereotypes, and discriminating attitudes toward cancer and people affected by the disease were very common in spite of clinical progress and improved survivorship.

IMPACT:

Our findings emphasize the need for health policy and social changes to provide a more supportive environment for cancer survivors.

PMID:
22344743
DOI:
10.1002/pon.3041
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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