Journal Article

Health promotion and cervical cancer in South Africa: why adolescent daughters can teach their mothers about early detection

Maghboeba Mosavel

in Health Promotion International

Volume 27, issue 2, pages 157-166
Published in print June 2012 | ISSN: 0957-4824
Published online March 2011 | e-ISSN: 1460-2245 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/heapro/dar014
Health promotion and cervical cancer in South Africa: why adolescent daughters can teach their mothers about early detection

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The notion that adolescent daughters can provide their mothers with health information that could actually impact the mothers’ behavior is a novel area of health promotion research. The goal of this study is to explore the reasons why adolescent daughters would give their mothers cervical cancer information, and why mothers would have the intent to listen to advice to obtain a Pap smear. We randomly selected and interviewed 157 mother and daughter dyads in Cape Town, South Africa. Almost one-fourth of mothers (22%) indicated never having had a Pap smear, while 92% of their daughters said their mother has never talked to them about cervical cancer or a Pap smear. Willingness of daughters to ask their mothers to obtain a Pap smear was high (80%). Motivations included the important health benefit and the sense of responsibility to share life saving information. Most mothers said they would definitely obtain a Pap smear when advised by their daughter (74%), while 25% said they would have to think about it and 1% said they would not listen. Mothers’ main motivations included the direct health benefit and a strong sense of duty and responsibility to listen to her daughter. This study provides important information about the reasons why an upward (child to parent) health intervention may be feasible. The values of duty and responsibility, especially as it manifests within the family, hold promise for informing health promotion interventions directed at multiple generations.

Keywords: cervical cancer; Pap smear; cancer education; mothers; daughters; cancer disparities

Journal Article.  5785 words. 

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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