Barriers to and facilitators of prostate cancer screening among men in Ugandan prisons

22 Jun 2023
Innocent Atuhe, Alfred Jatho, Babra Nalwadda, Annabella Habinka Basaza-Ejiri, Lynn Atuyambe, Jackson Orem

Background: Studies have shown that prostate cancer (PCa) is increasing at a rate of 5.2% per annum in Uganda and as few as 5% of men have ever been screened for PCa in Uganda. The situation may be worse among male prisoners given their ‘vulnerable status’. The goal of this study was to examine the perceptions, attitudes and beliefs of men in Ugandan prisons regarding barriers to and facilitators of PCa screening. This would enable the identification of potential interventional strategies to promote PCa screening among men in Ugandan prisons.

Methods: This study applied the explanatory sequential mixed methods study design. We first conducted 20 focus group discussions and 17 key informant interviews. The qualitative data were analysed to enrich a survey among 2,565 prisoners selected using a simple random sampling technique.

Results: Qualitatively, the belief that all cancers have no cure was a barrier against most participants considering screening to be of any value, coupled with the fear of screening positive for PCa and the associated stress. In addition, poor PCa knowledge and lack of PCa screening services in prisons were perceived as barriers to PCa screening in prison settings.

The quantitative data from the survey of 2,565 participants with a mean age of 50.2 (9.8), indicated that the main barriers to PCa screening were mainly myths, beliefs, lack of screening facilities and technical capacity. The majority believed that creating PCa awareness, conducting screening outreach in prisons, and providing equipment for PCa screening in prisons health facilities will facilitate PCa screening, as well as working with the Uganda prison service to train the prison health staff to perform PCa screen to facilitate Prison Health Centres capacity to screen for PCa.

Conclusion: There is a need to develop interventions to increase awareness among the inmates in the prison health system, while ensuring that the prison health facilities are equipped with the required screening logistics, backed with outreaches from cancer-specialised hospitals/facilities.

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