Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Communication and Information



First Advisor

Dr. Donald Helme


Cervical cancer mortality burden is carried disproportionately by African American women. Early indicators of cervical cancer are identified through prevention screening, a procedure typically performed by a gynecologist. Ideally, the patient group with the most severe mortality would likewise be the group with the most robust communication exchange with their physician to prevent cervical cancer incidence. However, a slew of factors contributes to continued mortalities among Black women. This study uses semi-structured interviews (n=10) and the health belief model to examine one barrier to Black women’s prosocial behaviors regarding routine gynecologic care—awkwardness, which here is conceptualized as social anxiety. The focus on awkwardness stems from the CDC health campaign, Under the Paper Gown, where awkwardness is the African American woman protagonist’s main drive for averting her appointment. However, anxiety and awkwardness are under-cited in current literature on Black women’s barriers to gynecologic care. Interviews revealed eight themes. The aims of the current exploratory study are twofold: Gain insight into Black women’s perceived barriers regarding gynecologic care and learn whether the portrayal of awkwardness accurately captures the true experiences of said women.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)