Cancer screening in homeless women: attitudes and behaviors

J Health Care Poor Underserved. 1998 Aug;9(3):276-92. doi: 10.1353/hpu.2010.0070.


Little is known about the use of cancer-screening services in homeless women and their attitudes about early detection programs. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with homeless women in San Francisco to determine rates of clinical breast exams, mammograms, and Pap smears. A total of 105 women were randomly selected from two homeless shelters. By self-report, 51 percent were current on clinical breast exams, 47 percent on mammograms, and 54 percent on Pap smears. These women had very positive attitudes toward receiving cancer-screening exams. In multivariate analyses, discussion about cancer prevention with a health care provider predicted current clinical breast exams and mammograms. More medical visits predicted being current on mammograms and Pap smears. Although homeless women represent a unique group of the urban poor, they are accessing cancer-screening exams at rates comparable to the general population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Breast Self-Examination
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Homeless Persons / psychology*
  • Housing
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Logistic Models
  • Mammography / psychology
  • Mass Screening / psychology
  • Mass Screening / statistics & numerical data*
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Papanicolaou Test
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Random Allocation
  • San Francisco
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Vaginal Smears / psychology