Barriers to Mammography Screening among Black Women at a Community Health Center in South Florida, USA

Med Res Arch. 2023 Apr;11(4):10.18103/mra.v11i4.3814. doi: 10.18103/mra.v11i4.3814. Epub 2023 Apr 25.


Background: In the United States (US), Black/African American women suffer disproportionately from breast cancer health disparities with a 40% higher death rate compared to White women. Mammography screening is considered a critical tool in mitigating disparities, yet Black women experience barriers to screening and are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced-stage breast cancer. The purpose of this study was to assess the relative frequency of mammography screening and to examine perceived and actual barriers to screening among women who receive care in our nurse-led community health center.

Methods: We conducted a survey examining frequency of mammography screening and beliefs about breast cancer including perceived susceptibility, perceived benefits, and perceived barriers to mammography screening, guided by the Champion Health Belief Model.

Results: A total of 30 Black/African American women completed the survey. The mean age of the participants was 54.3 years ± 9.17 (SD); 43.3% had a high school education or less; 50% had incomes below $60,000 per year; 26.7% were uninsured; 10% were on Medicaid; and only 50% were working full-time. We found that only half of the participants reported having annual mammograms 16 (53.3%), 1 (3.3%) every 6 months, 8 (26.6%) every 2-3 years, and 5 (16.7%) never had a mammogram in their lifetime. Frequently cited barriers included: 'getting a mammogram would be inconvenient for me'; 'getting a mammogram could cause breast cancer'; 'the treatment I would get for breast cancer would be worse than the cancer itself'; 'being treated for breast cancer would cause me a lot of problems'; 'other health problems would keep me from having a mammogram'; concern about pain with having a mammogram would keep me from having one; and not being able to afford a mammogram would keep me from having one'. Having no health insurance was also a barrier.

Conclusion: This study found suboptimal utilization of annual screening mammograms among low-income Black women at a community health center in Florida and women reported several barriers. Given the high mortality rate of breast cancer among Black/African American women, we have integrated a Patient Navigator in our health system to reduce barriers to breast cancer screening, follow-up care, and to facilitate timely access to treatment, thus ultimately reducing breast cancer health disparities and promoting health equity.