Barriers to help-seeking for Malaysian women with symptoms of breast cancer: A mixed-methods, two-step cluster analysis

Rajaram, Nadia and Jaganathan, Maheswari and Muniandy, Kavitha and Rajoo, Yamuna and Zainal, Hani and Rahim, Norlia and Tajudeen, Nurul Ain and Zainal, Nur Hidayati and Khairy, Azuddin Mohd and Wahab, Mohamed Yusof Abdul and Teo, Soo Hwang (2023) Barriers to help-seeking for Malaysian women with symptoms of breast cancer: A mixed-methods, two-step cluster analysis. BMC Health Services Research, 23 (1). ISSN 1472-6963, DOI

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BackgroundImproving help-seeking behaviour is a key component of down-staging breast cancer and improving survival, but the specific challenges faced by low-income women in an Asian setting remain poorly characterized. Here, we determined the extent of help-seeking delay among Malaysian breast cancer patients who presented at late stages and explored sub-groups of women who may face specific barriers.MethodsTime to help-seeking was assessed in 303 women diagnosed with advanced breast cancer between January 2015 and March 2020 at a suburban tertiary hospital in Malaysia. Two-step cluster analysis was conducted to identify subgroups of women who share similar characteristics and barriers. Barriers to help-seeking were identified from nurse interviews and were analyzed using behavioural frameworks.ResultsThe average time to help-seeking was 65 days (IQR = 250 days), and up to 44.5% of women delayed by at least 3 months. Three equal-sized clusters emerged with good separation by time to help-seeking (p < 0.001). The most reported barrier across clusters was poor knowledge about breast health or breast cancer symptoms (36.3%), regardless of help-seeking behaviour (p = 0.931). Unexpectedly, women with no delay (9 days average) and great delay (259 days average) were more similar to each other than to women with mild delays (58 days average), but, women who experienced great delay reported poor motivation due to fear and embarrassment (p = 0.066) and a lack of social support (p = 0.374) to seek help.ConclusionsDown-staging of breast cancer in Malaysia will require a multi-pronged approach aimed at modifying culturally specific social and emotional barriers, eliminating misinformation, and instilling motivation to seek help for breast health for the women most vulnerable to help-seeking delays.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Help seeking; Early presentation; Breast cancer; Early detection; Barriers; Malaysia
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0254 Neoplasms. Tumors. Oncology (including Cancer)
Divisions: Faculty of Medicine
Depositing User: Ms Zaharah Ramly
Date Deposited: 10 Jul 2023 04:41
Last Modified: 10 Jul 2023 04:41

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