The role of focus groups in health education for cervical cancer among minority women

Mark Dignan, Robert Michielutte, Penny Sharp, Judy Bahnson, Larry Young, Pheon Beal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Focus groups were used in the development of community-based public health education designed to reduce mortality from cervical cancer among black women in Forsyth County, North Carolina. The educational goals of this National Cancer Institute (NCI) funded project were to increase the proportion of black women, age 18 and older, who obtain Pap smears on a regular basis and return for followup care when necessary. A series of four focus groups were conducted to help develop the conceptual basis for designing educational messages and materials. The groups were led by a black, female professional focus group moderator, and explored a variety of health-related topics ranging from general, ordinary concerns of daily living to knowledge and attitudes about cancer screening. The group discussions suggested that health is regarded as very important to the target population, particularly when related to family functioning. Regarding the Pap smear, most women knew about the test, but had little awareness of its role in the early detection of cervical cancer. Fear and fatalism were clearly the dominant, top-of-mind reactions to cancer, and there was little differentiation among sites or types of cancer. Despite the overall pessimism, the groups agreed that early diagnosis and treatment provide the best hope for good outcomes with cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-375
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Community Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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