Knowledge of Evidence-Based Cancer Risk Factors Remains Low Among New Zealand Adults: Findings from Two Cross-Sectional Studies, 2001 and 2015

Document Type: Research Articles

Authors

1 Cancer Society Social and Behavioural Research Unit, Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.

2 Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.

3 Kōhatu – Centre for Hauora Māori, Division of Health Sciences, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.

Abstract

 
Objective: Cancer risk reduction messages are a part of cancer control efforts around the world. The complex reality is that risk factors differ for different types of cancer, making clear communication of desired behavioural changes more difficult. This study aims to describe awareness of risk factors for breast, bowel, cervical, prostate and lung cancer and cutaneous melanoma among New Zealanders in 2014/15 and identify changes in awareness since 2001. Methods: Two national telephone surveys, the first (CAANZ01) conducted in 2001, included 438 adults (231 females and 207 males, 64% response rate). The second, conducted in 2014/15 (CAANZ15), included 1064 adults (588 females and 476 males, 64% response rate). Results: In 2014/5, most participants could identify evidence-based risk factors for lung cancer and melanoma. In contrast, many participants were unable to name any risk factors (evidence-based or otherwise) for bowel (34.8%), breast (48.8%), cervical (53.9%) and prostate cancer (60.9%). Between 2001 and 2014/5 there were increases in the proportion of individuals identifying sunbeds as increasing melanoma risk, and alcohol consumption and family history as increasing risk for bowel and breast cancer. Conclusions: Effective communication of risk information for specific cancers remains a challenge for cancer control. Although some positive changes in awareness over the 14 year period were observed, there remains substantial room for progressing awareness of evidence-based risk factors.

Keywords

Main Subjects