Background: The reasons that obese women are less likely to obtain mammograms and Papanicolaou tests (Pap smears) are poorly understood. This study evaluated associations between body mass index (BMI) and receipt of and adherence to physician recommendations for mammography and Pap smear.
Methods: Data from the 2000 National Health Interview Survey (8289 women aged 40 to 74 years) were analyzed in 2006 using logistic regression. Women with previous hysterectomy were excluded from Pap smear analyses (n=5521). Outcome measures were being up-to-date with screening, receipt of physician recommendations, and women's adherence to physician recommendations for mammography and Pap smear.
Results: After adjusting for sociodemographic variables, healthcare access, health behaviors, and comorbidity, severely obese women (BMI > 40 kg/m(2)) were less likely to have had mammography within 2 years (odds ratio [OR]=0.50, 95% confidence interval [CI]=0.37-0.68) and a Pap smear within 3 years (OR=0.43, 95% CI=0.27-0.70). Obese women were as likely as normal-weight women to receive physician recommendations for mammography and Pap smear. Severely obese women were less likely to adhere to physician recommendations for mammography (OR=0.49, 95% CI=0.32-0.76). Women in all obese categories (BMI > 30 kg/m(2)) were less likely to adhere to physician recommendations for Pap smear (ORs ranged from 0.17 to 0.28, p<0.001).
Conclusions: Obese women are less likely to adhere to physician recommendations for breast and cervical cancer screening. Interventions focusing solely on increasing physician recommendations for mammography and Pap smears will probably be insufficient for obese women. Additional strategies are needed to make cancer screening more acceptable for this high-risk group.