The influence of acculturation on the prose comprehension of colon cancer information by English-as-a-second-language immigrant women
Thomson, Maria Danette
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Introduction: Colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death among women in Canada. Although regular screening beginning at age 50 years can significantly decrease risk of colon cancer mortality, many eligible Canadian women have never obtained screening. Cancer screening rates among immigrant women to Canada are even lower than for native-born women. Disparities in the use of preventive cancer services by immigrants have been linked to limited acculturation and speaking a language other than English. Poor prose comprehension may frustrate access and use of preventive cancer information by older ESL immigrant women to Canada. In order to develop useful and actionable cancer prevention information, it is necessary to understand the barriers ESL immigrant women face in obtaining and using health and cancer information. Therefore, the primary objective of this research was to assess the relationship of acculturation on the prose comprehension of older ESL immigrant women to Canada. Methods: Interviews were conducted with 78 older adult Spanish-speaking immigrant women (aged 45 to 73 years) residing in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario. Acculturation was inferred by length of Canadian residency and measured using the Bidimensional Acculturation Scale (BAS). Several measures were used to assess comprehension including the shortened Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults (S-TOFHLA), the Rapid Estimate of Literacy in Medicine (REALM), the Newest Vital Sign (NVS), and a modified Cloze procedure. The modified Cloze procedure was constructed using a one-page colon cancer information sheet created for the public by the Canadian Cancer Society. Four multiple linear regression analyses were used to test the relationship between the independent variables of acculturation (BAS) and length of Canadian residency, age, Spanish language education, employment, and media variables (television and internet use) on each measure of prose comprehension (i.e., dependent variables of scores on S-TOFHLA, NVS, REALM and Cloze). Logistic regression was used to test whether acculturation and comprehension predicted screening intentions. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to identify the women’s cancer information needs and preferences as well as the barriers they experienced in obtaining and understanding English language cancer information. Results: Three significant models predicting comprehension of colon cancer and health information were identified. The independent variables BAS, Spanish language education and television viewing explained 23% of the variation in Cloze comprehension scores (F=6.76; df=3; p < 0.01; R2= 0.23). Approximately 42% of the variation in S-TOFHLA scores among older ESL immigrant women was explained by the independent variables BAS, age, television viewing and internet use (F=12.13; df=5; p < 0.01; R2=0.42). Using REALM as the dependent measure of comprehension, BAS and television viewing explained 17% of the variation in scores (F=7.54; df=2; p<0.01; R2=0.17). BAS was the only significant predictor of the dependent comprehension measure NVS (F=5.36; df=1; p=0.02; R2=0.07). Logistic regression models predicting colon cancer screening intentions were not significant. Qualitative data analyses revealed that women’s colon cancer information needs, preferences and perceived barriers accessing English language information did not vary according to BAS score or duration of residency in Canada. All women requested actionable information that was community and culturally specific. Additional factors related to older ESL immigrant women’s comprehension of cancer information were identified. These included self-efficacy, social networks and mode of information delivery. These additional modes of information delivery included receiving health information orally as compared to written information. Conclusion: Acculturation (as measured by BAS) significantly predicted prose comprehension by older ESL Spanish speaking immigrant women across four separate measurement tools (Cloze, S-TOFHLA, REALM, NVS). Yet, the proportion of the variance in comprehension scores explained by acculturation and other demographic variables was low to modest, ranging from 7-42%. In addition to acculturation, self-efficacy and social networks may also be associated with prose comprehension. Low self-efficacy among older ESL immigrant women may be a barrier to information seeking and perceived comprehension. However, strong social networks may provide women with the confidence and resources necessary to access health information and services. These results highlight the need for the additional research regarding the influence of self-efficacy on ESL immigrants’ ability to find and use health and cancer information. Recommendations: This research has important implications for public health educators. Health educators are encouraged to develop cancer and health information for ESL speakers in Canada that is community, culturally and linguistically specific and which provides actionable information. This is especially salient given the changing demographic and cultural profile of Canadians. Also, among older ESL immigrants who struggle with language barriers, receiving health information orally may be preferred.