Lung Cancer:  Predictors of Stigma among Health Professionals versus Community Members — ASN Events

Lung Cancer:  Predictors of Stigma among Health Professionals versus Community Members (#273)

Tabitha Frew 1 , Vikki Knott 1
  1. University of Canberra, Bruce, ACT, Australia


Stigma and nihilism among health professionals with regard to lung cancer is recognised as impacting timely referral to treatment.  This study investigated stigma among trainee health professionals versus community members and investigated the role of health locus of control beliefs (HLC) and death anxiety in predicting stigma toward lung cancer patients.


Participants comprised 211 university students (males = 60, females = 165, Mage = 32.76, SD = 10.74); 65% were trainee health professionals.  Measures included the Cataldo Lung Cancer Stigma Scale (CLCSS), Death Anxiety Inventory (DAI) and the Internal and Chance subscales of the Multidimensional Health Locus of Control scale (MHLC).


          A statistically significant Welch’s t test confirmed trainee health professionals (N = 133, M = 1.44, SD = .34) do not stigmatise in comparison with community members (N = 80, M = 1.57, SD = .42), t(142.57) = -2.36, p <.05, two-tailed, d = 0.34, [-.240, -.021]. A standard regression conducted with the trainee health professional sample showed death anxiety accounted for a non-significant 2.20% of the variability in lung cancer stigma, R2 =.022, adjusted R2 = .014, F(1, 130) = 2.89, p =.091. In contrast, for community members death anxiety accounted for a significant 9.30% of the variability in lung cancer stigma, R2 =.093, adjusted R2 = .082, F(1, 77) = 7.94, p =.006, f 2 = 0.10.


This study found community members stigmatise against lung cancer patients. Anxiety towards death appears to be a strong predictor of the stigma. This has implications for media representations of lung cancer, which focus on its high mortality rate, and suggests media “scare tactics” continue to have a negative impact on community views.  To improve cancer outcomes for lung cancer patients (e.g. timely referral), future research should focus on understanding alternative factors to stigma underpinning therapeutic nihilism. 

  1. Cataldo, J.K., Slaughter, R., Jahan, T.M., Pongquan, V.L., & Hwang, W.J. (2011). Measuring stigma in people with lung cancer: psychometric testing of the Cataldo Lung Cancer Stigma Scale. Oncology Nursing Forum, 38, 46-54. doi: 10.1188/11.ONF.E46-E54
  2. Chambers, S.K., Dunn, J., Occhipinti, S., Hughes, S., Baade, P., Sinclair, S., Aitken, J., &… Youl, P. (2012). A systematic review of the impact of stigma and nihilism on lung cancer outcomes. Biomedical Central Cancer, 12, 184-203. doi: 10.1186/1471-2407-12-184
  3. Tomas-Sabado, J., & Gomez-Benito, J. (2005). Construction and validation of the death anxiety inventory. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 21, 108-114. doi: 10.1027/1015-5759.21.2.108
  4. Wallston, K.A., & Wallston, B.S. (1981). Health locus of control scales: Research with the locus of control construct. Assessment Methods, 1, 189-243.
  5. Phelan, J.C., Link, B.G., & Dovido, J.F. (2008). Stigma and prejudice: One animal or two? Social Science & Medicine, 67, 358-367. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2008.03.022