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Public attitudes about lung cancer: stigma, support, and predictors of support

Authors Weiss J, Stephenson BJ, Edwards L, Rigney M, Copeland A

Received 29 March 2014

Accepted for publication 13 May 2014

Published 16 July 2014 Volume 2014:7 Pages 293—300

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/JMDH.S65153

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Jared Weiss,1 Briana J Stephenson,2 Lloyd J Edwards,2 Maureen Rigney,3 Amy Copeland3

1Division of Hematology and Oncology, University of North Carolina, 2Department of Biostatistics, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA; 3Lung Cancer Alliance, Washington, DC, USA

Introduction: Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death, yet public engagement with efforts against lung cancer is low. Public engagement with a cancer is critical to efforts to combat it, yet the reasons for low support for efforts against lung cancer have not been systematically characterized.
Methods: We conducted a telephone survey of 1,071 people to determine levels of engagement and attitudes that might potentially drive engagement. These were then analyzed by univariate and multivariate analysis.
Results: Eight percent of participants were involved with a lung cancer organization and 12% chose it among cancers to receive more support. Most participants felt that lung cancer was principally caused by external factors, that it could be cured if caught early, and that lung cancer patients were at least partly to blame for their illness. In multivariate analysis, participants who were supportive in some way of efforts against lung cancer were more likely to be employed, live in suburbia, and to be unsure of the cause of lung cancer. Potential supporters were more likely to be employed, female, younger, have higher income, to believe that genetics is the primary cause of lung cancer, and to believe that lung cancer can be cured when caught early. Participants frequently noted that they supported a particular cancer because of knowing someone affected by that cancer.
Conclusion: As the lung cancer movement attempts to grow and increase its impact, the most successful recruitment efforts will be targeted to these groups.

Keywords: stigma, advocacy, lung cancer

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