Pap smear and mammogram screening in Mexican-American women: the effects of acculturation

Am J Public Health. 1994 May;84(5):742-6. doi: 10.2105/ajph.84.5.742.


Objectives: For Mexican Americans, acculturation is a multidimensional process of adopting attitudes, values, and behavior from the non-Hispanic White culture. This study examines the effects of different dimensions of acculturation on the cancer screening behavior of Mexican-American women.

Methods: Subjects were 450 randomly selected Mexican-American women age 40 years and older living in El Paso, Texas. Personal interviews solicited information on age, income, education, health insurance, Pap smear and mammogram use, and acculturation. Acculturation was measured with five scales that assessed English proficiency, English use, value placed on culture, traditional family attitudes, and social interaction.

Results: The 2-year prevalence of Pap smear and mammogram screening increased with each gain in acculturation on English proficiency and use. These associations disappeared when adjusted for age, income, insurance, and education. After adjusting for sociodemographic factors and other acculturation dimensions, a strong traditional Mexican attitude toward family was positively related to mammography use.

Conclusions: Taking advantage of the positive influence of Hispanic familism on cancer screening behavior may increase the effectiveness of cancer control interventions in Mexican Americans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Family
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammography / statistics & numerical data*
  • Mass Screening
  • Mexican Americans* / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Papanicolaou Test*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / ethnology*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Texas
  • Vaginal Smears / statistics & numerical data*