Access to Cancer Screening for Women With Mobility Disabilities

J Cancer Educ. 2012 Mar;27(1):75-82. doi: 10.1007/s13187-011-0273-4.


Women with mobility disabilities are less likely to access cancer screening, even when they have a primary care provider. The Gateways to Cancer Screening project was initiated to document the challenges for women with disabilities in their access and experiences of screening for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer. The study followed the tenets of participatory action research. Five peer-led focus groups were held with 24 women with mobility disabilities. Study participants identified multiple and interacting institutional barriers to cancer screening. Their discussions highlighted the complex work of (1) arranging and attending health-related appointments, (2) confronting normative assumptions about women's bodies and (3) securing reliable health care and information. These overlapping, mutually reinforcing issues interact to shape how women with disabilities access and experience cancer screening. We explore implications for redesign of cancer screening services and education of health providers, providing specific recommendations suggested by our participants and the findings.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Disabled Persons / psychology*
  • Early Detection of Cancer / psychology*
  • Early Detection of Cancer / standards*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Services Accessibility / standards*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Women / education*
  • Young Adult