Reducing the Excess Burden of Cervical Cancer Among Latinas: Translating Science into Health Promotion Initiatives

Calif J Health Promot. 2013;11(1):45-57.


Purpose: Although deaths from cervical cancer are declining, Latinas are not benefiting equally in this decline. Incidence of invasive cervical cancer among Los Angeles', California Latinas is much higher than among non-Latina Whites (14.7 versus 8.02 per 100,000). This paper examines cervical cancer screening among Latinas.

Methods: Ninety-seven women of Mexican origin participated in 12 focus groups exploring barriers to screening. Saturation was reached.

Results: All participants knew what a Pap test was and most knew its purpose. More acculturated participants understood the link between HPV and cervical cancer. More recent immigrants did not. There was confusion whether women who were not sexually active need to be screened. Most frequently mentioned barriers were lack of time and concern over missing work. Lower income and less acculturated women were less likely to be aware of free/low-cost clinics. Older and less acculturated participants held more fatalistic beliefs, were more embarrassed about getting a Pap test, were more fearful of being perceived as sexually promiscuous, and were more fearful of receiving disapproval from their husbands.

Conclusions: Latinas are informed regarding cervical cancer screening; rather they encounter barriers such as a lack of time, money and support. Health promotion interventions can be enhanced via peer-to-peer education, by addressing barriers to cervical cancer screening with in-language, culturally tailored interventions, and working with clinics on systemic changes, such as extended clinic hours.

Keywords: Latinas; barriers; cervical cancer; health disparity; translational research.