Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Public Health

Major Professor

Kelli McCormack Brown, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Carol A. Bryant, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jeaninne Coreil, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Donileene R. Loseke, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Robert J. McDermott, Ph.D.


women's health; human papillomavirus; Latino women; international health; Latin America; Panama health


To learn how to address health issues specific to Hispanic cultures in an effort to address health disparities, learning from cultural aspects that affect health from the countries of origin would be most useful. Community programs built on rigorous and systematic research prove to be more powerful than ad-hoc programs. Qualitative research techniques offer powerful alternatives for public health professionals to develop adequate and directed programs at the community level, especially among underserved communities and those represented by oral/spoken traditions. The study was conducted among 132 working class single and married Mestizo women between the ages of 20-40 living in Panama City, Panama. This group of women has the highest incidence of HPV in Panama so are at the highest risk of cervical cancer. Using social construction as the theoretical framework, this study uses four different qualitative research techniques: free listing, pile sorting, individual semi-structured, and group interviews. Key findings include the importance of religion and family, women’s understandings of the relationship between sexuality and health, influence of media, other women, and husbands help construct screening knowledge among women in the study. Culturally relevant health education interventions and programs delivered in a group format at the community level in a participatory mode would be most effective in reaching women in Panama and other Hispanic populations. Future quantitative studies and influences of social networks are suggested.