Background: Breast and cervical cancer continue to claim the lives of women. Early detection modalities for these cancers are available; however, utilization rates are far from optimal. Studies have documented the motivating effect that physician recommendations have on compliance with preventive health behaviors. The goal of this study was to develop and implement strategies to improve the use of cervical and breast cancer screening among African-American women age 40 and older who resided in low-income housing communities.
Methods: Baseline surveys among clinic providers and a random sample of women in the target population indicated areas to be included in intervention material. Community health center-based strategies included educational interventions for providers and patients, follow-up interventions for abnormal screening tests, and the implementation of a computer tracking system. Pap smear and mammogram utilization rates at the health center were tracked throughout the project period to assess the effect of the clinic-based interventions.
Results: Both Pap smear and mammography rates increased over time. Fifteen cases of breast cancer and 1 case of invasive cervical cancer have been detected. Compliance rates for follow-up for cervical dysplasia have increased from 50 to 90%.
Conclusions: These results suggest that clinic-based interventions can improve the use of breast and cervical cancer screening and follow-up among low-income women.