Changes in the social gradients for Pap smears and mammograms in Argentina: evidence from the 2005 and 2009 National Risk Factor Surveys

Public Health. 2012 Oct;126(10):821-6. doi: 10.1016/j.puhe.2012.05.011. Epub 2012 Oct 22.


Objectives: To identify changes in the social gradients for Pap smears and mammograms in Argentina.

Study design: Secondary analysis of the 2005 and 2009 Argentine National Risk Factor Surveys.

Methods: Logistic regression analysis was used to examine social gradients by income and education, adjusting for age and health insurance.

Results: The proportion of women who received a Pap smear in the previous 2 years increased from 51.6% in 2005 to 60.5% in 2009 (χ(2) = 344.8, P < 0.001). A significant increase was also seen in the receipt of a mammogram in the previous 2 years by women aged ≥50 years, with an increase from 39.6% in 2005 to 52.6% in 2009 (χ(2) = 279.6, P < 0.001). In 2005, low-income women were most likely not to have received a Pap test [odds ratio (OR) = 3.27, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 2.70-3.98], followed by medium-income women (OR = 1.73, 95% CI = 1.41-2.12), compared with high-income women. The gradient by education was of a similar magnitude, and both income and education gradients remained stable from 2005 to 2009. Restricting the analysis to eight provinces that have been deemed to be high priority due to their high levels of mortality from cervical cancer reveals an increasing income-based gradient in Pap smears. In contrast, inequalities in mammography diminished across the country, with a significant reduction in the social gradient measured either by income or education. In contrast to high-income women, low-income women experienced higher odds of not having a mammogram, but the gap diminished over time [OR = 4.14 (95% CI = 2.96-5.78) in 2005 vs OR = 2.37 (95% CI = 1.81-3.11) in 2009].

Conclusion: Social gradients in cancer screening are changing in Argentina. There are signs of a reduction in inequalities in mammograms, although this is attenuated by indications that inequalities in Pap smear utilization in priority provinces are growing. Surveillance of population indicators is needed to verify whether these short-term changes persist over time.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Argentina
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Early Detection of Cancer / statistics & numerical data*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Healthcare Disparities / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Income / statistics & numerical data*
  • Mammography / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Papanicolaou Test*
  • Risk Factors
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Vaginal Smears / statistics & numerical data*