Chronic Conditions May Be Barrier to Timely Cervical Cancer Screening

A survey examining nonfinancial barriers to cervical cancer screening indicated that women who were rarely or never screened were more likely to report having 1 or more chronic conditions. The study suggests that physicians include preventive services along with treatment for chronic conditions.

A survey examining nonfinancial barriers to cervical cancer screening indicated that women who were rarely or never screened were more likely to report having 1 or more chronic conditions. The study suggests that physicians include preventive services along with treatment for chronic conditions.

The survey, published in Preventing Chronic Disease, asked a sample of women aged 40 to 65 years who reported having insurance and a personal healthcare provider whether they had ever had a Pap test to screen for cervical cancer and if so, the most recent time the test was performed. The researchers then divided the respondents into 2 groups—screened on time and never or rarely screened—and compared the likelihood of several demographic characteristics across these 2 groups.

Compared to the women who had been screened regularly, the women who were never or rarely screened had higher rates of reporting at least 1 chronic condition, and a significantly higher proportion of them had more than 1 or 2 chronic conditions. For instance, 16.6% of the never or rarely screened women had 3 or 4 chronic conditions, as opposed to 7.9% of the women screened on time. Meanwhile, the women screened for cervical cancer every 3 years reported higher rates of receiving other preventive care measures like mammograms and were more likely to have no chronic conditions.

Some other factors more prevalent in the never or rarely screened women than in the regularly screened group included obesity, current smoking, older age (60 to 65 years), Asian/Pacific Islander race, or income less than $10,000. The women who never or rarely screened were also more likely to report having had a heart attack or a stroke in their lifetime. Women with skin cancer were more likely to be screened for cervical cancer, but no other form of cancer was associated with differences in cervical cancer screening.

The study findings were similar to others indicating that insured women with arthritis or diabetes were less likely to receive screening for cervical cancer. The literature also suggests that age, lack of awareness, fatalistic health beliefs, and low health literacy are among the factors preventing timely cervical cancer screenings for insured women with chronic conditions. The authors of the current study recommended that physicians make an effort to incorporate disease prevention services along with the chronic disease treatment that is often given greater priority.

References

Crawford A, Benard V, King J, Thomas CC. Understanding barriers to cervical cancer screening in women with access to care, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2014. Prev Chronic Dis. 2016;13:160225.