Senior Honors Projects, 2010-current

Date of Award

Spring 2016

Document Type

Dissertation/Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)

Department

Department of Health Sciences

Advisor(s)

Dr. Theresa M. Enyeart Smith

Dr. Audrey J. Burnett

Dr. Stephanie L. Baller

Abstract

Tazewell County is a community the citizens feel is plagued by cancer. This concern was so great the county officials requested a study be done by a local university, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), to explore potential external factors causing these perceived high rates of cancer within the community. The results of the Virginia Tech study found the rates of cancer were no higher in Tazewell County than elsewhere in the state of Virginia. The purpose of the current study was to explore the idea of perceptions and the effect they may have on the health behaviors of the citizens of Tazewell County. Specifically, the perception of cancer rates in the community, knowledge of and access to health care, and religious fatalism. A self-administered questionnaire was placed at four different locations throughout the county to try to ensure the highest number of respondents. Potential respondents were asked, by predetermined correspondents, as they were entering or leaving a location if they would like to complete the survey. Those that chose to participate would then complete and hand back the survey before leaving the location. There were 120 total surveys completed and returned. The questions within the survey pertained to the above mentioned variables and were compared to respondents’ self reported health behaviors. There were no significant findings other than the relation between the amount of vegetables consumed and the perception of cancer rates in the community (x2= 22.85, p=0.029). It was determined the respondents held high perceptions of cancer rates in the community yet seem to be doing little in regards to their health behaviors to try to reduce their risk of developing cancer. Tazewell County health officials could use this information to better educate the public on positive health behaviors and the positive effect those behaviors can have on overall health.

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