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Negative Cancer Messages Backfire With Blacks
Date:11/6/2008

Positive approaches more likely to prompt minorities to get checked for disease, study says

THURSDAY, Nov. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Cancer-screening messages targeted to minorities that take a negative approach -- emphasizing, for instance, that colon cancer is a bigger threat to blacks than whites -- can actually make minorities less likely to be screened, a new study found.

"There have been some other studies that have hinted at the same thing," said study lead author Robert Nicholson, an assistant professor of neurology and psychiatry at St. Louis University School of Medicine.

For the study, Nicholson and his colleagues asked 300 black people to answer questions about their habits of getting screened for colon and rectal cancer, as well as other cancers. The researchers also asked the study participants about their general mistrust of the medical system.

Next, the researchers asked the participants to read one of four news articles about colon cancer that were created especially for the study, and then answer questions about how likely they were to get screened for the disease.

One article stated that colon cancer was an important problem for blacks, while another focused on the fact that colon cancer outcomes were worse for blacks than for whites.

The third article said outcomes for blacks with colon cancer were improving, but not as much as for whites. The fourth article talked about how results for blacks with colon cancer were improving over time.

The participants' most positive response about cancer screening came after they read the article that results for blacks were improving over time. The article most likely to cause a negative response was the one that simply stated the problem -- that blacks are more likely than any other racial group to develop colon cancer.

The article that said outcomes are improving, Nicholson said, "got the most positive response overall re
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