Open Access Research article

Racial and ethnic differences in personal cervical cancer screening amongst post-graduate physicians: Results from a cross-sectional survey

Joseph S Ross1*, Marcella Nuñez-Smith2, Beverly A Forsyth3 and Julie R Rosenbaum4

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Geriatrics and Adult Development, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and HSR&D Targeted Research Enhancement Program and Geriatrics Research, Education, and Clinical Center, James J. Peters Veterans Administration Medical Center, Bronx, NY, USA

2 Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program, Department of Internal Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA

3 Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, NY, USA

4 Primary Care Internal Medicine Residency Program, Yale University School of Medicine, and Department of Medicine, Waterbury Hospital Health Center, New Haven, CT, USA

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BMC Public Health 2008, 8:378  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-378

Published: 30 October 2008

Abstract

Background

Racial and ethnic disparities in cervical cancer screening have been attributed to socioeconomic, insurance, and cultural differences. Our objective was to explore racial and ethnic differences in adherence to cervical cancer screening recommendations among female post-graduate physicians.

Methods

We conducted a cross-sectional survey at one university hospital among a convenience sample of 204 female post-graduate physicians (52% of all potential participants), examining adherence to United States Preventive Services Task Force cervical cancer screening recommendations, perception of adherence to recommendations, and barriers to obtaining care.

Results

Overall, 83% of women were adherent to screening recommendations and 84% accurately perceived adherence or non-adherence. Women who self-identified as Asian were significantly less adherent when compared with women who self-identified as white (69% vs. 87%; Relative Risk [RR] = 0.79, 95% Confidence Interval [CI], 0.64–0.97; P < 0.01). Women who self-identified as East Indian were significantly less likely to accurately perceive adherence or non-adherence when compared to women who self-identified as white (64% vs. 88%; RR = 0.73, 95% CI, 0.49–1.09, P = 0.04). Women who self-identified as Asian were significantly more likely to report any barrier to obtaining care when compared with women who self-identified as white (60% vs. 35%; RR = 1.75, 95% CI, 1.24–2.47; P = 0.001) and there was a non-significant tendency toward women who self-identified as East Indian being more likely to report any barrier to obtaining care when compared with women who self-identified as white (60% vs. 34%; RR = 1.74, 95% CI, 1.06–2.83; P = 0.06).

Conclusion

Among a small group of insured, highly-educated physicians who have access to health care, we found racial and ethnic differences in adherence to cervical cancer screening recommendations, suggesting that culture may play a role in cervical cancer screening.