Lung cancer stigma as a barrier to medical help-seeking behavior: Practice implications

Lisa Carter-Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship of perceived lung cancer stigma and timing of medical help-seeking behavior in symptomatic individuals. Data sources: A convenience sample was recruited from an academic thoracic oncology clinic and community hospital-based outpatient radiation center in a large city in the southeastern United States. This descriptive, cross-sectional study used survey methodology and semistructured interviews to examine the relationship of perceived lung cancer stigma and delayed medical help seeking finding a statistically significant positive correlation. Additional examination revealed positive correlations between the stigma and shame, social isolation, and smoking-related stigma subscales and delay. The discrimination-related subscale was not associated with delay. In addition, smoking status was not related to perceived lung cancer stigma. Conclusions: Findings support an association between lung cancer stigma and delayed medical help-seeking behavior. Therefore, lung cancer stigma is a potential barrier to timely medical help-seeking behavior in lung cancer symptoms, which can have important patient outcome implications. Implications for practice: As primary care nurse practitioners, awareness that lung cancer stigma exists for patients is essential regardless of smoking status and efforts to decrease this barrier to timely health care are important.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)240-245
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2015



  • Cancer
  • Healthcare-seeking behaviors
  • Lung
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Primary care
  • Stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)

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