Cervical cancer screening among Latinas: the importance of referral and participation in parallel cancer screening behaviors

Women Health. 2004;39(2):13-29. doi: 10.1300/J013v39n02_02.


Low cancer screening participation among medically underserved Latinas is largely due to lack of active referral to screening procedures by health care providers. We explored how physicians' referral and instruction on parallel screening procedures discriminates Latinas' cervical cancer screening practices in the context of relevant variables such as sociodemographic characteristics, health insurance, history of cancer, and level of acculturation. Of 153 women surveyed, 100 were compliant with yearly Pap smear while 53 were not compliant. Discriminant function analysis revealed that health care provider interventions and parallel breast cancer screening behaviors were significant discriminators between women who obtained a Pap smear within a year and those who were less compliant. A change in public health policy that facilitates to medically underserved Latinas access to reliable sources of health care referrals and services might increase their regular use of cervical cancer screening, which could potentially result in a reduction in cancer treatment costs and in lives lost to cervical cancer among these women.

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Hispanic Americans*
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening*
  • Middle Aged
  • Papanicolaou Test*
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Vaginal Smears / statistics & numerical data*