A culturally informed model to enhance breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screenings: perspectives of American Indian adults and healthcare providers in rural New Mexico

Cancer Causes Control. 2023 Oct;34(10):855-871. doi: 10.1007/s10552-023-01721-y. Epub 2023 Jun 6.


Purpose: American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) populations have some of the lowest cancer screening rates compared to other racial/ethnic populations. Using community-based participatory research methods, we sought to characterize knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and approaches to enhance breast, colorectal, and cervical cancer screening.

Methods: We conducted 12 focus groups between October 2018 and September 2019 with 96 eligible AI adults and healthcare providers, recruited using non-probability purposive sampling methods from the Zuni Pueblo in rural New Mexico. We used the Multi-level Health Outcomes Framework (MHOF) to conduct a qualitative content analysis identifying mutable systems- and individual- level constructs important for behavior change that we crosslinked with the Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) recommended evidence-based interventions (EBIs) or approaches.

Results: Salient systems-level factors that limited uptake of cancer screenings included inflexible clinic hours, transportation barriers, no on-demand service and reminder systems, and brief doctor-patient encounters. Individual-level barriers included variable cancer-specific knowledge that translated into fatalistic beliefs, fear, and denial. Interventions to enhance community demand and access for screening should include one-on-one and group education, small media, mailed screening tests, and home visitations by public health nurses. Interventions to enhance provider delivery of screening services should include translation and case management services.

Conclusions: The MHOF constructs crosslinked with CPSTF recommended EBIs or approaches provided a unique perspective to frame barriers and promoters of screening utilization and insights for intervention development. Findings inform the development of culturally tailored, theoretically informed, multi-component interventions concordant with CPSTF recommended EBIs or approaches aimed at improving cancer screening.

Keywords: American Indians; Breast neoplasm; Cancer screening; Cancer screening test; Cervical neoplasm; Colorectal neoplasm; Community-based participatory research; Health behavior; Health equity; New Mexico.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • American Indian or Alaska Native
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / prevention & control
  • Early Detection of Cancer
  • Female
  • Health Personnel
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American*
  • New Mexico
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms* / prevention & control