Cancer Health Literacy and Its Correlated Factors in the United Arab Emirates-A Cross Sectional Study

Iffat Elbarazi, Faisal Aziz, Luai A. Ahmed, Aminu S. Abdullahi, Fatima Al-Maskari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Cancer Health literacy (CHL) is the health literacy related to cancer knowledge, prevention, treatment, screening, and access to services. It is an important indicator of people’s adherence to screening and preventive measures, which helps to reduce the incidence and prevalence of cancer. The study assessed the CHL level and its association with relevant socio-demographic characteristics and sources of information among primary health care patients and visitors in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Methods: A cross-sectional study recruited survey participants who consented to respond to an interviewer-administered questionnaire. The assessment of CHL was done by using 15 questions. CHL level was measured as a median score and also categorized as poor/inadequate, moderate, good/excellent. Nominal logistic regression was used to analyze the relationship between CHL categories and participants’ sociodemographic characteristics and CHL sources of information. Results: Of the total 492 participants, 45.5% were young adults (30-39 years old), 32.9% were males, and 70.8% were UAE nationals. The overall median CHL score was 8.0 (IQR = 5.0-10). 33.7% of the participants had a poor/inadequate level of CHL, 49.6% had a moderate level and 16.7% had a good to excellent level of CHL. 76.9% of the participants knew the importance of early cancer screening tests, 72.7% acknowledged the metastatic capacity of cancer, and the protective factors of cancer, especially, in colon cancer (71.7%). A high proportion of participants received health information about cancer via the internet (50.7%), television (45.3%), social media (40.2%), and doctors (43.6%). Nationality other than UAE (aOR = 1.62, 95% CI = 1.03-2.56, P =.038), having university education (aOR = 2.20, 95% CI = 1.21-3.99, P =.010) compared to those with lower than high school, and having a family history of cancer (aOR = 2.42, 95% CI = 1.33-4.41, P =.004) were positively associated with CHL. Older age (aOR =.36, 95% CI =.17-.75, P =.007 for 50-59 years, and aOR =.29, 95% CI =.11-.82, P =.019) for 60-69 years, higher-income (aOR =.57, 95% CI =.33-.99, P =.047 for 10,000-19,999 AED; aOR =.53, 95% CI =.33-.88, P =.013 for ≥20,000) compared with those earning <10,000 AED were negatively associated with CHL. Conclusions: CHL among the resident UAE population was moderately adequate, therefore implementation of awareness campaigns seems to be warranted. Moreover, evaluation research targeting the CHL impact on cancer prevention practices and screening is also advocated.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCancer Control
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2024


  • cancer health literacy
  • cancer screening
  • health literacy
  • knowledge
  • United Arab Emirates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology

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