Friday, February 26, 2010

Race and Knowledge about Lung Cancer

In terms of what people know, it rarely gets more important than knowledge about health.  According to a study out this week:

Blacks were more likely than whites to have certain beliefs regarding fear and risk perception of lung cancer that may interfere with the prevention and treatment of the disease, according to new findings from the 2005 Health Information National Trends Survey. 
So race matters, at least according to this study. This brief story even uses multivartiate analysis in a later graph, which for us methodology geeks is something of a treat.  In it, they find that blacks were more likely (than whites? non-blacks?) that it is hard to follow lung cancer recommendations and to avoid an evaluation of lung cancer because they were afraid of the process.

If you're into this, other versions of the story are available at the LATimes, WebMD, and a particularly good one at Science Daily.

In that latter one from Science Daily is an interesting observation:
Both black and white respondents greatly overestimated the percentage of lung cancer patients who survive 5 years or longer -- many said 50 percent when the true number is 15 percent.
I've always been fascinated not only by knowledge but also perceptions -- either of knowledge, or opinion distribution, or of reality.  We apparently tend to overestimate how many people survive lung cancer, and I suspect the reason is an optimism bias. We want to believe they survive longer, especially if we happen to engage in the behaviors that might logically lead to lung cancer.  Interesting stuff.

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