J Korean Med Sci.  2018 Aug;33(33):e215. 10.3346/jkms.2018.33.e215.

Income Difference in Attitudes towards Cancer in General Population: Findings from a National Survey

  • 1Cancer Policy Branch, National Cancer Control Institute, National Cancer Center, Goyang, Korea. park.keeho@gmail.com


To better understand cancer-related health behaviors, it is critical to know how general populations with different socioeconomic and demographic backgrounds perceive cancer. The current paper explored differences in general attitudes and beliefs towards cancer among Koreans.
A cross-sectional national survey was conducted for 1,000 Korean participants who were not cancer patients and did not have immediate family members with cancer via proportional quota random sampling. General attitudes and beliefs about cancer were measured by face-to-face interview using the awareness and beliefs about cancer (ABC) measure.
Most respondents (84.8%-88.5%) had optimistic attitudes towards cancer. However, 35.6% to 87.7% agreed with negative cancer beliefs across all age groups simultaneously. Socioeconomic disparity of positive cancer beliefs was not evident. Unexpectedly, the highest income group agreed more strongly with the negatively framed statements that cancer treatment is worse than the cancer itself (odds ratio [OR], 2.68; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.31-5.53), that they would not want to know if they have cancer (OR, 1.61; 95% CI, 0.94-2.75), and that a cancer diagnosis is a death sentence (OR, 2.32; 95% CI, 1.34-4.01), than the lowest income group.
The present results imply a complicated context of cancer beliefs in Korea, unlike those shown in the studies of western populations. While the contradictory attitudes toward cancer can be attributable to the dual nature of information processing, social environment might have played a role. The association between socioeconomic status and negative attitudes toward cancer may vary depending on the diversity of the contexts.


Cancer; Beliefs; Attitudes; Income

MeSH Terms

Automatic Data Processing
Health Behavior
Social Class
Social Environment
Surveys and Questionnaires
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