Joint Families and Cancer Diagnosis in Rural India

Document Type: Research Articles

Author

School of Arts and Science, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, United States.

Abstract

Background: Each year, there are over a million new cases of cancer in India, which causes many untimely deaths
and increases the economic burden to households. By focusing on preventative measures and finding socioeconomic
and behavioral contributors to cancer, steps can be taken to help alleviate this burden. This study aims to find the effect
living in a joint family can have on being diagnosed with cancer in rural India. Methods: The study estimates the
effect living in a joint family, along with other demographic information, has on being diagnosed with cancer using
a logit estimation model. The data for the study was collected from a survey was conducted on the households of the
Handiganur village (N=251) comprising of several demographic, social, and medical questions. Results: The study
found that living in a joint family lowers the odds of having cancer. The results indicate that living in a joint family
reduces the probability of being diagnosed by 7.23 percentage points and is significant at a 5% level. Furthermore,
among the other tested variables, eating habit is negatively significant at 5% level, suggesting that if a person eats 3 to
4 times a day his or her likelihood of suffering from cancer will be lowered by 6.55 percentage points. Access to public
wells and drinking alcohol both increase the likelihood of being diagnosed with cancer by 7.90 (p<0.1) percentage
points and 11.90 (p<0.05) percentage points respectively. Conclusions: The negative effect of joint family could be
due to two possible reasons. The first is that there is in fact a biological reason. The second reason for this result could
be a false negative, as it could be because people in joint families are not getting the necessary check-ups required to
diagnose cancer.

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