Nonadherence to breast and cervical cancer screening: What are the linkages to chronic disease risk?

Steven S. Coughlin, Robert J. Uhler, H. Irene Hall, Peter A. Briss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

51 Scopus citations


Background Several preventive practices that reduce chronic disease risk have been associated with breast and cervical cancer screening, including maintenance of normal weight and avoidance of cigarette smoking. A history of certain chronic illnesses such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease has also been related to cancer screening. Nevertheless, studies that have attempted to identify women who are less likely to have had a recent breast or cervical cancer screening test have infrequently examined the associations of breast and cervical cancer screening with multiple health factors that influence chronic disease risk. Methods To clarify relationships between cancer screening and health behaviors and other factors that influence chronic disease risk, we examined the self-reported breast and cervical cancer screening practices of women in the United States by using data from the 1999 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. The women were described according to their recent use of mammography and the Papanicolaou test, physician visits within the past year, health insurance coverage, and preventive practices that reduce chronic disease risk. Results Overall, 74.5% (95% CI, 73.9%-75.1%) of the women in this sample aged 40 years or older (n = 56,528) had received a mammogram within the past 2 years. The percentage of women who had been screened for breast cancer, however, varied widely by factors associated with reducing the risk of chronic disease (e.g., cholesterol check in the past 2 years, blood pressure check in the past 2 years, normal weight, avoidance of cigarette smoking) and having access to health care (e.g., health insurance coverage, recent physician visit). Similarly, 84.4% (95% CI, 83.9%-84.9%) of all women aged 18 years or older who had not undergone a hysterectomy (n = 69,113) had received a Papanicolaou test in the past 3 years, and factors associated with reduced chronic disease risk and health care access were related to having had a recent Papanicolaou test. Conclusion The results of this study suggest that underscreened women who are at risk for breast and cervical cancer are likely to benefit from programs that identify and address coexisting prevention needs. The identification of coexisting prevention needs might assist in developing interventions that address multiple risks for chronic disease among women and might subsequently help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of prevention programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPreventing Chronic Disease
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2004
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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