Religion, fatalism, and cancer control: A qualitative study among Hispanic Catholics

Bryan Leyva, Jennifer D. Allen, Laura S. Tom, Hosffman Ospino, Maria Idali Torres, Ana F. Abraido-Lanza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: To assess cancer perceptions among churchgoers and to examine the potential influence of fatalism and religious beliefs on the use of cancer screening tests. Methods: Eight semi-structured focus groups were conducted among 67 Hispanic Catholics in Massachusetts. Results: In this sample, there were few references to fatalistic beliefs about cancer and nearly universal endorsement of the utility of cancer screening for cancer early detection. Most participants reported that their religious beliefs encouraged them to use health services, including cancerscreening tests. Although participants agreed that God plays an active role in health, they also affirmed the importance of self-agency in determining cancer outcomes. Conclusions: Our findings challenge the assumption that fatalism is an overriding perspective among Hispanics. Catholic religious beliefs may contribute to positive health attitudes and behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)839-849
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Behavior
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014


  • Cancer
  • Cancer fatalism
  • Cancer screening
  • Catholic
  • Fatalism
  • Hispanics
  • Latinos
  • Religion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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