“If It Is Written by Allah, There Is Nothing That Can Stop It”: Saudi women’s breast cancer narratives

T. H. Sinky, M. Cheyney, M. M. Dolcini


The purpose of this study was to identify cultural models of breast cancer held by Saudi women and to explore how these may influence early detection and treatment-seeking behaviors. Data were collected via semi-structured interviews with breast cancer survivors (n=20) from two Western cities in Saudi Arabia. Respondents were recruited through social networking, using purposive, snowball sampling. Illness narratives elicited during interviews were transcribed, coded and then analyzed using a modified grounded theory approach. Results suggest that fatalism, perceived threats to traditional role fulfillment, and a preference for traditional therapies commonly mark the breast cancer experiences of Saudi women, influencing their early detection and treatment-seeking behaviors. A more nuanced understanding of emic viewpoints could help to improve public health messaging and intervention strategies in Saudi Arabia.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/hcs.2015.196


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