Improving cancer screening among lesbians over 50: results of a pilot study

Oncol Nurs Forum. 2003 Jul-Aug;30(4):E71-9. doi: 10.1188/03.ONF.E71-E79.


Purpose/objectives: To explore the impact of two one-hour lesbian-specific educational interventions by a lesbian physician on the cancer screening behaviors of lesbians.

Design: A pilot pre- and post-test intervention study.

Setting: Two lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered senior organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area (one urban, one suburban).

Sample: 36 participants aged 50-81 (meanX = 60.2, SD = 6.48). The majority were Caucasian (86%), single (61%), living in urban areas (67%), employed (56%), and educated beyond high school (meanX = 15.47 years, SD = 2.90, range 9-21). Eleven percent (n = 4) did not have any health insurance and were not on Medicaid or Medicare.

Methods: A lesbian physician led a one-hour, didactic, lesbian- specific educational program on cancer screening, including a review of current research findings with regard to lesbians' risk for cancer and 45 minutes of information on recommended cancer screening, followed by a 15-minute question-and-answer period. Participants completed a pre- and postintervention survey.

Findings: Follow-up data were available for 22 women. Of the six women (27%) who had not focused their attention on breast screening behaviors for two years or more, one-third had obtained mammograms and half began performing monthly breast self-examinations. Of the four women (18%) who had not undergone a pelvic examination for three years or more, one obtained a pelvic examination. The women reported no changes in colorectal cancer screening behaviors.

Conclusions: Some of these difficult-to-reach women changed their behavior in a very short period of time, supporting the need for a larger study to confirm these findings.

Implications for nursing: A need exists to develop appropriate interventions for the underserved population of lesbians older than 50.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / nursing*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / nursing
  • Data Collection / methods
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Genital Diseases, Female / nursing
  • Homosexuality, Female*
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Mass Screening / nursing*
  • Middle Aged
  • Oncology Nursing / education
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods
  • Pilot Projects
  • Population Surveillance / methods
  • Single Person / statistics & numerical data
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data
  • Whites / statistics & numerical data