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Despite existing cervical cancer screening options, cervical cancer remains one of the most common cancers in women between the ages of 15 – 44 [1]. It is worth taking the time to understand cervical cancer screening disparities so that efforts can be made to rectify them. 

Identifying Barriers to Cervical Cancer Screening

A recent study conducted a focus group discussion in Missouri with 35 African American church-affiliated women ages 25 to 53. The women also completed a survey. The participants were mostly insured, came from a higher socioeconomic status demographic, and had a positive attitude and high confidence towards cervical cancer screening and their ability to receive it.

Despite these advantages, the participants were found to have low cervical cancer knowledge overall, and approximately 26% of participants were not up to date with their cervical cancer screening. Reported barriers to screening included financial concerns, prioritizing their children’s health, and a history of trauma [2].

Another study conducted in Texas surveyed and reviewed data from 433 low-income uninsured women that received cervical cancer screening over 33 months from a grant-funded program. The participant demographics included mainly non-Hispanic white women, non-Hispanic Black women, and Hispanic women. The participants were surveyed at the start of the first visit.

Analysis of the survey results found a significant correlation between educational attainment and knowledge of cervical cancer risk factors. Moreover, lack of knowledge about the risk factors for cervical cancer was identified as a barrier to cervical cancer screening and was twice as likely among non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic participants. Additional barriers to cervical screening among Hispanic participants included fears of language barriers, cancer diagnosis, and male physicians performing the screening [3]. 

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Addressing Barriers to Cervical Cancer Screening

Multiple disparities exist regarding cervical cancer screening. Understanding the local community and addressing these barriers in a culturally-relevant manner is essential to increasing cervical cancer screening and decreasing cervical cancer morbidity and mortality, particularly among Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black populations. 


[1] Johnson, N. L., Head, K. J., Scott, S. F., & Zimet, G. D. (2020). Persistent disparities in cervical cancer screening uptake: knowledge and sociodemographic determinants of papanicolaou and human papillomavirus testing among women in the United States. Public Health Reports, 135(4), 483–491. https://doi.org/10.1177/0033354920925094


[2] Christensen, KN. (2021). Facilitators and barriers to cervical cancer screening among African American women. A dissertation in clinical psychology. University of Missouri – Kansas City. https://mospace.umsystem.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10355/77967/Christensen_umkc_0134D_11629.pdf?sequence=2&isAllowed=y


[3] Akinlotan, M., Bolin, J. N., Helduser, J., Ojinnaka, C., Lichorad, A., & McClellan, D. (2017). Cervical cancer screening barriers and risk factor knowledge among uninsured women. Journal of Community Health, 42(4), 770–778. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10900-017-0316-9