Colon Cancer Worry in Appalachia

Omar F. Attarabeen, Usha Sambamoorthi, Kevin T. Larkin, Kimberly M. Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Appalachia has a higher incidence of and mortality from colon cancer (CC) than other regions of the United States; thus, it is important to know the potential impact of elevated risk on cancer worry. Guided by the Self-regulation model, we investigated the association of demographic, cultural (e.g., fatalism, religious commitment), and psychological factors (e.g., perceived risk, general mood) with CC worry among a sample of Appalachian women. A mixed method design was utilized. Appalachian women completed surveys in the quantitative section (n = 134) and semi-structured interviews in the qualitative section (n = 24). Logistic regression was employed to calculate odds ratios (OR) for quantitative data, and immersion/crystallization was utilized to analyze qualitative data. In the quantitative section, 45% of the participants expressed some degree of CC worry. CC worry was associated with higher than high school education (OR 3.63), absolute perceived risk for CC (OR 5.82), high anxiety (OR 4.68), and awareness of easy access (OR 3.98) or difficult access (OR 3.18) to health care specialists as compared to not being aware of the access. there was no association between CC worry and adherence to CC screening guidelines. The qualitative section revealed fear, disengagement, depression, shock, and worry. Additionally, embarrassment, discomfort, and worry were reported with regard to CC screening. Fears included having to wear a colostomy bag and being a burden on family. CC worry was common in Appalachians and associated with higher perceptions of risk for CC and general anxiety, but not with adherence to screening guidelines. The mixed method design allowed for enhanced understanding of CC-related feelings, especially CC worry, including social/contextual fears.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-88
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Community Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2018


  • Appalachian region
  • Colon cancer
  • Perceived risk
  • Rural health
  • Worry


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