Perceptions of Lung Cancer 2010

Our 2010 study, Global Perceptions of Lung Cancer

People living with lung cancer are too often stigmatised because of link to smoking

Lung cancer patients are likely to suffer significant stigma due to the disease’s link to smoking: that is the top-line finding of a survey carried out by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the Global Lung Cancer Coalition.

The study investigated attitudes surrounding the disease, which is the biggest cancer killer worldwide.

Researchers found that between 10% and 29% of people in the countries surveyed admitted they felt less sympathetic towards lung cancer sufferers because of its known association with smoking cigarettes and other tobacco products.

The research, which surveyed over 16,000 people in 16 countries, also found some evidence that sympathy levels were influenced by rates of smoking in each country. Generally people in countries with lower rates of smoking had a greater tendency to admit that they felt less sympathetic to people with lung cancer compared with other types of cancer. However, the pattern is not perfect, which suggests that other cultural or traditional factors also have an important role to play.

Dr Matthew Peters, chair of The Global Lung Cancer Coalition, said: “This research supports what we have suspected for a long time; that lung cancer carries a noteworthy stigma.

Although the majority of those questioned rejected the notion that they felt less sympathetic towards lung cancer sufferers because of its association with smoking, there was still a significant proportion who admitted they did stigmatise the disease.

You simply do not see this type of blame culture with any other disease. Lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer in the world. There is no place for a culture of blame or shame that adversely affects individuals and contributes at a broader level to poor resourcing of the research necessary to allow people to live longer and better lives after a lung cancer diagnosis. No-one deserves lung cancer.”

The report found significant variation between countries in the proportion of adults who admit they have less sympathy for people with lung cancer – 10% in Argentina; 29% in Australia; 28% in Brazil; 24% in Great Britain; 23% in Slovenia; 22% in Canada and the USA; 20% in Japan; 18% in The Netherlands; 17% in Norway, Bulgaria and Denmark; 16% in Italy, Sweden and Switzerland and 14% in Spain.

At least 1,000 interviews were conducted in each country, either face-to-face or by telephone (omnibus survey), in January/February/March 2010 (respondents in Bulgaria were interviewed a little later – in May 2010).

The survey was conducted across sixteen different countries, including: Argentina (adults aged 16-64, telephone); Australia (adults aged 18+, telephone); Brazil (adults aged 16+, face-to-face); Bulgaria (adults aged 15+, face-to-face); Canada (adults aged 18+, telephone); Great Britain (adults aged 15+, face-to-face); Italy (adults aged 15+ face-to-face); Japan (adults aged 20+, face-to-face); Norway (adults aged 15+, telephone); Spain (adults aged 15+ face-to-face); Denmark (adults aged 15+, telephone); Switzerland (adults aged 15+, telephone); Slovenia (adults aged 15+, face-to-face); Sweden (adults aged 15+, telephone); the Netherlands (adults aged 15+, telephone) and the USA (adults aged 18+, telephone).

The full text of the 2010 report can be downloaded here.

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