Wednesday, December 13, 2017

URSP Student Mandy Burton Explores Race, Ethnicity, and Breast Cancer Diagnoses among Hispanic Women

I am a graduating senior majoring in Sociology and minoring Public Health. This project represents the intersection between these two fields of study. I believe that examining the social determinants of health is crucial in addressing the health needs of minority and other at-risk populations. I became interested in this project after hearing about an immigrant couple’s experience at a recent health fair. They were worried about participating because they thought it would increase their risk of deportation. I began to wonder how citizenship status affects the health decisions of immigrants living in the U.S., and particularly in the tri-state area. The purpose of my study was to examine more closely the experiences Hispanic women have accessing the health community as it relates to breast cancer awareness, diagnosis, and treatment. Hispanic women are typically diagnosed with later stages of cancer when compared to Non-Hispanic Whites. I held interviews with ten Hispanic women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. to collect detailed interview data regarding their experiences. I wanted to find out what their access point into the health community was and what barriers they experienced along the way.

I will be applying for the Masters of Public Health here at GMU in the spring where I hope to continue my study of the social determinants of health through other lenses. I believe that this qualitative research has prepared me to be a better student and future health community educator. One thing I have learned through this process is that the qualitative research process constantly evolves as you finalize your methodological design and collect and code the data. My project looked very different at the beginning of the semester and I learned so much about the process of research along the way.