While Albertans may be united in their
concern about cancer and cancer prevention, the way they address that concern
is much more varied. On one end of the
spectrum are those who take an active role
in their own health, educating themselves
about health matters and maintaining a
healthy lifestyle in the belief that their actions can have some impact on whether or
not they get cancer. At the other end of the
spectrum are those with a more fatalistic
outlook, believing their actions have little
impact on whether or not they get cancer,
as if health was entirely predetermined or
just a matter of luck. This group makes up
around 15 percent of the respondents in the
2010 survey conducted by AHS.
While confusion about how cancer happens and what can be done to reduce the
risk may be most pronounced among the
fatalistic 15 percent, it’s certainly not limited to this group. Most respondents from
the 2010 survey (95 percent) agreed that
“early detection is important for successful
treatment of chronic disease and cancer.”
However, a solid 70 percent also agreed
there were so many tests and recommendations, they were confused as to exactly
what they should be doing to reduce their
chances of getting the disease.
how Albertans see their health
Studies reveal that Albertans have a varied approach when it comes to their own health.
Respondents typically fell into two categories, which are best described as the working well
and the fatalistic 15.
The working well refers to Albertans who generally take an active interest in their health
and health issues. They are vigilant, knowledgeable and conscientious about preventative
behaviours, including not smoking, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and going for
regular checkups with a physician, even when they’re not feeling sick. Most likely to be
among the working well are university-educated females aged 50-plus.
Least likely to be among the worried well are young males reporting an education level
of high school or less. Most of these respondents appear at the other end of spectrum as
part of the fatalistic 15, a reference to the 15 percent of respondents who expressed a belief
that getting cancer and other chronic diseases is simply bad luck, and that no amount of
preventative measures will make a real difference.
A 2010 survey for Alberta health Services by environics research Group
revealed a number of other perceptions about health and disease screening. for example:
• Just 28 percent of Albertans seek out screening tests for medical conditions, such as
cancer and chronic disease.
• Just 24 percent of Albertans frequently discuss healthy living and disease prevention
with family or friends; 67 percent discuss it occasionally or rarely; and eight percent
never discuss healthy living or disease prevention.
The Alberta Cancer Board’s 2008 Cancer Prevention Knowledge, Attitudes
and Behaviours Survey found:
• People living in rural Alberta, those with high-school and college educations and smokers themselves are most likely to see smoking as a minor health risk.
• one-quarter of Albertans feel that to some extent a cure to cancer is being hidden
from the public.
• More than 90 percent of Albertans
agree it is becoming more important
to watch their health.
What Albertans see as the top 10 causes of cancer:
3. Environmental pollutants
4. Family history (heredity/genetics)
6. Too much sun/uV radiation
7. Lack of exercise