Cancer Fatalism and Preferred Sources of Cancer Information: an Assessment Using 2012 HINTS Data

Tassnym H. Sinky, Jennifer Faith, Olivia Lindly, Sheryl Thorburn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Cancer fatalism is associated with lower participation in cancer screening, nonadherence to cancer screening guidelines, and avoidance of medical care. Few studies, however, have examined the relationship between cancer fatalism and health information seeking. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between endorsement of fatalistic beliefs regarding cancer and preferred sources of cancer information. We analyzed data from the Health Information National Trends Survey 4 Cycle 2, which were collected in late 2012 and early 2013 (N = 3630). When weighted, the data are representative of the non-institutionalized US population aged 18 or older. In bivariate and multivariate analyses, we assessed three cancer fatalism beliefs as predictors of preferred use of healthcare provider versus preferred use of the Internet for cancer information. Results indicate the majority of US adults endorse one or more fatalistic beliefs about cancer. Unadjusted results indicate endorsing the fatalistic belief that “there’s not much you can do to lower your chances of getting cancer” was significantly associated with lower odds of preferring the Internet (versus healthcare providers) as the source of cancer information (OR: 0.70; CI: 0.50, 0.98). In the adjusted model, however, none of the three cancer fatalism measures were significantly associated with preferred source of cancer information. In conclusion, fatalistic beliefs about cancer are common, and further research is warranted to understand cancer fatalism and whether and how it may impact health information-seeking behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-237
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Cancer Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer fatalism
  • Cancer information-seeking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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