Trusted Cancer Information Resources Within the Hispanic Community

July 3, 2020

This study found that Hispanic adults trust a wide variety of health information sources, indicating the need for targeted and tailored information from healthcare providers.

According to findings from a study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, Hispanic adults trust a wide variety of health information sources, indicating that information tailored to specific ethnic subgroups or targeted to various age groups could be valuable.1

Though Hispanics are the largest ethnic minority group in the US, prior research has shown disparities in cancer risk and survival among Hispanic Americans and white Americans, as well as among various Hispanic subgroups. Researchers indicated that these results have important implications for modifying cancer-related information and the methods by which it is shared with Hispanic populations.

“Lack of knowledge about cancer services, exacerbated by relatively limited access to those services, is considered a major contributor to those disparities,” Marlene Camacho-Rivera, MS, MPH, ScD, said in a press release.2 “In this study, we aimed to assess trust in health information across various sources and evaluate how that trust may vary by gender, age, ethnic background, and socioeconomic background.”

Using data from the Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS) 4, cycles 2 and 4 and HINTS 5, cycle 2, researchers evaluated 9 trust questions divided into 4 domains of health communication sources. These sources included a doctor or other healthcare professional, government health organization, charitable organizations, religious organizations or leaders, friends and family, the internet, television, radio, and newspapers or magazines. 

Of a total of 1512 respondents, trust in sources ranged from 27% for radio to 91% for doctors. A large proportion of respondents also reported a high level of trust in cancer information from government health agencies (68%), the internet (63%), and charitable organizations (53%). Notably, participants who had family members who were diagnosed with cancer were 2.4 times more likely to trust cancer information from a doctor compared to those who did not have a family member diagnosed with cancer (95% CI, 1.09-5.23).

Those with lower levels of education were 49% less likely to trust cancer information from government health agencies (95% CI, 0.27-0.96) compared with those who had a college degree or more (52%; 95% CI, 0.25-0.90). In addition, Hispanics who had lived in the US less than 10 years were almost 9 times more likely to trust in government health agencies (95% CI, 2.74-27.38) compared to those who had lived in the US for more than 10 years or who were US born.

Moreover, Cuban and Puerto Rican respondents were nearly twice as likely to report a high level of trust in cancer information from newspapers or magazines when compared with Mexican and Mexican American participants (95% CI, 1.12-3.41). Respondents 75 years of age or older were also 2 times more likely (95% CI, 1.09-3.63) to report a high level of trust in cancer information from newspapers or magazines when compared with respondents under 35 years of age. In addition, women were 1.6 times more likely to report a high level of trust in cancer information from the internet compared with their male counterparts (95% CI, 1.10-2.32).

In regard to information collected from religious organizations, an association was observed between age and trust in cancer information with those who were 50 years or older having a higher level of trust than those under 50. When compared with those aged 18 to 34, the likelihood of reporting a high level of trust in cancer information from religious organizations ranged from 1.68 for those 50 to 64 years of age to 2.27 for those 75 years or older. Women were also 60% more likely to trust cancer information from religious organizations than men (95% CI, 1.09-2.28).

“As a Latina, I would want fellow Hispanics to know that not all health information that is available may be credible and evidence-based,” Camacho-Rivera said. “It is important to ask questions of health care providers, in order to make informed decisions, and not just take all information at face value.”

“While we have seen increases in health information-seeking due to increased access to the internet, smartphones, and social media, we also recognize the potential for technology to exacerbate health disparities,” she continued. “It is not enough for us to simply put information out into the public domain and expect individuals to act on it; we must also support community spaces and resources that can help people benefit from the information.”

Altogether, these results highlight the importance in understanding the sources of information that are most trusted within the Hispanic population in order to properly reach the intended audience. Camacho-Rivera explained that, ideally, healthcare providers, community health workers, and lay health advisers would help Hispanic individuals in identifying the most accurate information from the growing number of available sources.

References:

1. Camacho-Rivera M, Gonzalez CJ, Morency JA, Blake KD, Calixte R. Heterogeneity in Trust of Cancer Information Among Hispanic Adults in the United States: An Analysis of the Health Information National Trends Survey. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-19-1375.

2. Hispanics Demonstrate Wide Variation in Trust of Health Information Sources [news release]. Published June 29, 2020. Accessed June 30, 2020.