Background: Factors associated with participation in breast and cervix cancer screening among elderly black women of low socioeconomic status were determined.
Methods: Data from a baseline cross-sectional random survey were used together with data on whether screening was subsequently completed or refused. The subjects were a random sample of women attending an urban public hospital primary care clinic for routine medical care with a birth year of 1924 or earlier.
Results: Among the 271 women in the study group, 70% completed screening. Stated intent was the strongest predictor of participation; women who intended to have both mammography and Pap testing were 2.7 times more likely to participate than those who intended to have neither test (95% confidence interval 1.4, 4.9; P < 0.01), controlling for age, insurance status, and level of chronic illness. Women who had more than three chronic illnesses were twice as likely to participate than those with three or fewer illnesses (95% confidence interval 1.1, 3.4 P < 0.02), controlling for the remaining variables. Other variables, including age, history of a recent screening examination, attitudes, or knowledge, were not related to participation. Stated intent was the only variable that predicted compliance with both mammography and Pap smear completion in separate regression models for the individual tests.
Conclusion: A high proportion of elderly, socioeconomically disadvantaged black women will participate in cancer screening when it is offered in a primary care setting. Further research on behavioral intentions should be conducted to refine interventions designed to enhance the use of early cancer detection among vulnerable population groups.