Objective: To characterize breast and cervical cancer screening rates in selected underserved populations and to compare the rates with objectives for the year 2000.
Design: Six random-sample surveys were conducted in underserved populations between 1991 and 1993. Two of the surveys were random-digit-dial telephone surveys; four were conducted using in-person interviews.
Settings: The studies were conducted in the following target populations: (1) low-income and minority women residing in urban areas in Minnesota, Rhode Island, and North Carolina; (2) Hispanic women residing in urban communities in Texas; and (3) women residing in rural West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Participants: A total of 6648 noninstitutionalized women aged 40 years or older were interviewed.
Main outcome measures: Self-reported knowledge and practices related to mammograms and Papanicolaou smears.
Results: Between 35% and 79% of women had ever had a mammogram, and between 27% and 66% reported having a mammogram in the past 2 years. Between 82% and 95% of women had ever had a Papanicolaou smear, and between 55% and 74% reported having a Papanicolaou smear in the past 3 years. Women with low levels of education, below 200% of the poverty level, with no health insurance, 80 years or older, residing in Appalachian West Virginia, and Hispanic women residing in urban Texas have the farthest to go to reach the cancer screening objectives for the year 2000.
Conclusions: Although access to health care is high among the women studied, screening rates are uneven. Objectives for the year 2000 clearly are attainable for some populations of underserved women, though much work needs to be done if objectives are to be met for all subgroups.