A recent online survey by a research team from the Department of Gerontology, University of Kansas, United States of America, has shown that Nigerian men show high conformity to masculine beliefs on cancer disease.
The University of Kansas often referred to as KU or Kansas, is a public research university in the Kansas state of the U.S.A.
The survey shows that Nigerian men do not believe to be likely diagnosed with cancer and nearly half does not believe that individually as men they are susceptible to cancer diagnoses.
This survey was conducted on two hundred and fifty Nigerian men regarding their beliefs and perceptions of cancer diagnoses.
“We found out that many Nigerian men do not believe that they are at heightened risk of cancer. Still, an alarming number of those who reported having a family history of cancer have never engaged in any form of cancer preventive behaviour” said Darlingtina Atakere Social Psychology and Gerontology at the University of Kansas.
Atakere said that men are often socialised to project strength, autonomy, dominance, stoicism, and avoid any expression of emotion or vulnerability; all of which could be interpreted as weakness.
“Beliefs on these socially contrived messages regarding masculinity and manhood are acknowledged in defining the behavioural patterns of men, which may have considerable consequences on their health outcomes.
“These beliefs may prevent men from practicing good health behaviour, such as engaging in early cancer detection through screening and therefore contribute (in part) to cancer diagnoses at a point when chances for survival are non-existent” Atakere said.
Experts argue that individuals’ health behaviours and outcomes are importantly related to their beliefs about how susceptible they are to disease.
“If a person does not believe they are vulnerable to cancer, they are less likely to practice good health behaviour’s related to that cancer – such as screenings and medical check-up – and may end up with worse health outcomes as a result” experts says.
Atakere further said it is vital that we understand the authority health perception carries in making certain health-related decisions.
“Despite campaigns for early cancer detection, additional efforts are needed to effectively get Nigerian men to screen for cancer. Health information, especially from the media, usually portrays cancer as being predominantly a ‘White’ problem. These social orientations and structural domains combine to increase health risks and diminish health-promoting behaviours.”
“We need a more in-depth and tailored assessment to reach a decisive understanding of the influence socio-cultural factors, (such as health perceptions) has among Nigerian men. Taking this necessary step may decrease the barriers to cancer screening, and thus promote early detection while leading to living a longer and healthier life” Atakere added.