Screening mammography and older Hispanic women : current status and issues

by Sarah Fox, Richard G. Roetzheim

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Little is known about the screening behavior of older minority women, especially Hispanic women. Data from Los Angeles were compared to national data to examine any similarities and unique problems. In 1990, 726 women from Los Angeles older than 65 years of age were surveyed by telephone after being identified through a probability sample or through Medicare listings. Mammography experience and knowledge and attitudes about screening were collected. Differences in mammography experience by racial/ethnic group were computed using the chi-square test. Hispanic women were not underscreened significantly compared with older white and black women. Approximately three quarters of Hispanics had had a mammogram in the previous 2 years, compared with 84% of blacks and 82% of whites. Income and education levels were more explanatory of underscreening than was race. For example, 50% of whites with incomes of less than $15,000 had been screened in the previous 2 years, compared with 71% of those with higher incomes. Hispanics, however, reported significantly more concerns about screening and getting breast cancer than did whites or blacks despite the Hispanics' lower incidence and mortality rates. Hispanics also reported more health insurance inadequacies and a poorer quality of life that may interfere with maintenance of screening behaviors. To maintain equal screening across racial/ethnic groups, national programs should focus on strategies that help Hispanics acculturate to achieve equal educational and other benefits. To decrease screening inequities within races and help realize the National Cancer Institute's Year 2000 goals, income and educational differences will need to be less pronounced.

Originally published in: Supplement to Cancer, v. 74, no. 7, October 1, 1994, pp. 2028-2033.

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