Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in Qatar, incidence rate is rising and it is often diagnosed at advanced stages. Early detection of breast cancer through regular screening activities has been found to decrease morbidity and mortality rates. Although research on breast cancer screening in the Middle East is scarce, low levels of knowledge and poor participation rates have been found to act as barriers towards breast cancer screening activities such as breast self-examination, clinical breast examination and mammography. Various other barriers have been described in the literature. Identification of these potential barriers and facilitators is urgently needed in order to develop culturally appropriate interventions aiming to improve awareness and breast cancer screening participation rates.

A three-phase research program for which the goals are to (1) Understand breast health issues in Qatar; (2) Identify and implement strategies that assist Arabic women's participation in breast cancer screening activities (3) Evaluate, facilitate and sustain these strategies.

In Phase 1 two studies are conducted. Study 1: this quantitative study examines data from a convenience sample of 1063 Arabic women in Qatar on a cross sectional community based survey. Face to face interviews are used to investigate knowledge, attitudes, practices, barriers and facilitators regarding breast cancer screening activities. Study 2: Using an ethnographic qualitative methodology, this study will capture the complexity and diversity of reasons of health behaviour choices on a purposive sample of 50 women, 50 men and 30 health care providers.

Preliminary results from study 1 will be presented. These will include: participation rates of breast cancer screening activities of Arabic women in Qatar such as breast self-examination, clinical breast examination and mammography; levels of knowledge of breast cancer and its screening; identified barriers and facilitators to breast cancer screening as experienced by these women.

Combined results will enable development of culturally appropriate intervention strategies to raise awareness and participation rate in breast cancer screening among Arabic women living in Qatar and the Gulf region.


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