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How Physicians Affect Latina Mammography Screening Adherence

Recent study shows physician input is crucial

A recent study published in Womens Health Issues examined whether physician involvement predicted adherence to the American Cancer Society mammography screening guidelines among Latinas, and found that a physician's recommendation and instructions were the biggest factors associated with adherent behavior.

Although breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in non-Hispanic white women, it is the leading cause among Latina/Hispanic women in the United States.  This disparity can be attributed to later-stage diagnosis and lower mammography rates for Latinas.  A Latina participants living in Denver, Colorado were surveyed regarding sociodemographic information, breast cancer screening, and physician involvement.  The final sample size included 344 U.S.-born Latinas and immigrants over the age of 40.  Compared to U.S.-born respondents, Latina immigrants reported lower levels of educational attainment and lower rates of health insurance, household income and employment.  The authors found that compared to women who did not have mammography recommendations or self instruction by their physicians, women who had physicians recommend a mammogram were 5.1 times more likely to report adherence and women who were instructed on how to examine their breast were 3.4 times more likely report adherence.  The authors also evaluated age differences and found that older women were 1.04 times more likely to follow mammography guidelines than younger women.

The authors noted that breast cancer screening disparities were less dependent on Latina women's sociodemographic characteristics than on their physician's involvement through active breast cancer screening instructions and referrals.  The authors suggested that more research needs to be conducted to assess whether the type of insurance coverage (e.g. private versus public) influences mammography adherence.

(González P, Borrayo EA. "The Role of Physician Involvement in Latinas' Mammography Screening Adherence." Women's Health Issue. (January 2011).)

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