The extent that one thinks about their health defines the concept of health consciousness (HC). While the literature establishes a link between HC and prevention behavior, a less explored area is the individual, social and health characteristics that are associated with increased HC. Similarly, under examined is the influence of race and ethnicity on the relationship of these characteristics to higher levels of HC.
This cross-sectional study aims to identify and assess the relative importance of factors associated with higher levels of HC, highlighting the role of race and ethnicity. Participants were drawn from a national online research panel survey (N=1,007). Participants completed a four-item scale capturing key concepts of HC, as well as questionnaires capturing demographic profiles, social support, social networking activities, and health status. A step-wise multiple regression was used to identify significant predictors of HC.
Female and more educated participants report higher levels of HC (p<.01). African American and Hispanic participants report higher levels of HC compared to White participants (p<.05). While social support, social network participation, education, cancer survivorship, and health status were positively associated with higher HC (p<.05) for the collective sample, when stratified by race/ethnicity some variation in factors associated with higher levels of HC was noted between groups. Among African American participants, social support was the only predictor of higher levels of HC (p<.001). Hispanic participants indicate predictors associated with higher levels of HC include social support and education (p<.05). Among White participants, social support, poorer self-rated health, and gender were identified predictors of higher levels of HC (p<.05).
Findings suggest that interventions highlighting HC, combined with factors that are ethnically congruent in increasing HC, may offer a successful path to motivating cancer prevention behaviors within at-risk communities.