Background: Underutilization of breast and cervical cancer screening has been observed in many ethnic groups and underserved populations. Effective community-based interventions are needed to eliminate disparities in screening rates and thus to improve prospects for survival.
Methods: The Breast and Cervical Cancer Intervention Study was a controlled trial of three interventions in the San Francisco Bay Area from 1993 to 1996: (1) community-based lay health worker outreach; (2) clinic-based provider training and reminder system; and (3) patient navigator for follow-up of abnormal screening results. Study design and a description of the interventions are reported along with baseline results of a household survey conducted in four languages among 1599 women, aged 40-75.
Results: Seventy-six percent of women ages 40 and over had had at least one mammogram, and most had had a clinical breast examination (88%) and Pap smear (89%). Rates were significantly lower for non-English-speaking Latinas and Chinese women (56 and 32%, respectively, for mammography), and maintenance screening (three mammograms in the past 5 years) varied from 7% (non-English-speaking Chinese) to 53% (Blacks). Pap smear screening in the past 3 years was low among non-English-speaking Latinas (72%) and markedly lower among non-English-speaking Chinese women (24%). The strongest predictors of screening behavior were having private health insurance and frequent use of medical services. Having a regular clinic and speaking English were also important. Race/ethnicity, education, household income, and employment status were, overall, not significant predictors of screening behavior.
Conclusions: These baseline results support the importance of cancer screening interventions targeted to persons of foreign origin, particularly those less acculturated.
Copyright 2001 American Health Foundation and Academic Press.