Pap smear screening among urban southwestern American Indian Women

B. Risendal, J. DeZapien, B. Fowler, M. Papenfuss, A. Giuliano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Background. American Indian women have among the highest incidence and mortality rates of cervix cancer in the United States. The incidence of cancer of the cervix among American Indians is 19.5/100,000 versus 7.8/100,000 in U.S. whites, and comparison by geographic region/tribe indicates that the rate is four to six times higher in some tribes. Papanicolaou cytological testing (Pap smear) permits the detection of cervical lesions before they become cancerous, effectively reducing the incidence of cervical cancer by 75-90%. The American Cancer Society recommends a Pap smear every year beginning at age 18 years or when sexually active, and more frequent screening in high-risk populations. Methods. A random household cross-sectional survey was conducted in Phoenix, Arizona, to assess cervical cancer screening rates among 519 adult urban American Indian women. Logistic regression was used to identify predictors of Pap smear use. Results. Three-quarters (76.1%) of urban women American Indian surveyed received a Pap smear within the past 3 years, but only 49.5% received a Pap smear within the last year. Women over age 50 years were significantly less likely to have received a recent Pap smear in comparison to younger women. Conclusions. The results of this study indicate that limited access to health care and lack of knowledge about the procedure were important barriers to Pap smear use. Improving cervix cancer screening participation rates is an important step in reducing the disease burden in this high-risk population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)510-518
Number of pages9
JournalPreventive Medicine
Issue number6 I
StatePublished - 1999


  • American Indian health
  • Minority women's health
  • Pap smear screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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