Introduction: We investigated barriers to breast and cervical cancer screening among Vietnamese women in San Francisco and Sacramento, California.
Methods: Face-to-face interviews were conducted in 1992 of 306 Vietnamese women in San Francisco and of 339 women in Sacramento.
Results: In both communities, only about one half of Vietnamese women had ever had routine check-ups, clinical breast examinations, mammograms, and Pap smear tests, and only about one third were up-to-date for these screening examinations. Among women age 40 or older, 35% had never even contemplated having a mammogram. This study identified several significant barriers to recognition, receipt, and currency of screening tests. Negative predictors of test recognition included low level of education and not having a regular physician. Negative predictors of test receipt included low level of education, not having a regular physician, short duration of residence in the United States, and never having been married. A major negative predictor of test currency was low level of education. With a few exceptions, attitudes and beliefs generally were not important predictors.
Conclusions: Health education and screening programs for early breast and cervical cancer detection among Vietnamese women must be culturally appropriate and conducted in the Vietnamese language. Special outreach efforts are needed to assist recent immigrants in obtaining recommended breast and cervical cancer screening examinations.