The Health Literacy Process Older Adult Long-Term Smokers Use to Make an Informed Decision about Lung Cancer Screening: A Grounded Theory Study
Platter, Heather N
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Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States with 160,000 annual deaths. Recent advances in screening technologies have proven effective in reducing mortality and increasing early stage detection of lung cancer, yet only 3.9% of the 6.8 million eligible Americans were screened in 2015. Potential barriers to lung cancer screening have been examined; however, there is limited research available on the impact of health literacy and the process of informed decision-making about lung cancer screening. To fill this gap, this study explored how health literacy relates to intentions and behaviors to screening for lung cancer among long-term smokers between 55 to 80 years old who have a 30-pack year smoking history, health insurance, and a provider seen in the past two years. The study was guided by the following research question: “How does health literacy relate to intentions and behaviors to screen for lung cancer?” Twelve participants (N=12) were enrolled in the study. Participants were 58.3% female, 83.3% black, 83.3% had screened for any cancer besides lung cancer, and 75% were current smokers with a 41.8 mean pack-year history. The majority of the sample (91.7%) had adequate health literacy based on the Short Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults. Data were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using constructivist grounded theory methods, proceeding through four stages of coding (open, focused, axial, and theoretical). Analysis produced a Health Literacy Theoretical Model of Informed Decision-Making about Lung Cancer Screening. The theoretical model is underpinned by a core category: Making an Informed Decision about Lung Cancer Screening. This core category is supported by eight categories characterizing how health literacy relates to lung cancer screening among older adult long-term smokers, including Health Information Seeking Behaviors, Trusted Sources, Knowledge, Trusted Provider, Advocacy, Perceived Risk, Patient-Provider Communication, and Shared Decision-Making. This is one of the only known studies that describes the health literacy process of informed decision-making about lung cancer screening. The results of this grounded theory study have several implications for public health practice, research, and policy and have the ability to increase lung cancer early detection and survival.