Wealth and ethnicity linked to screening uptake in women
White British women are more likely to have had cervical screening and there is more chance that women who own a car and/or home have had a mammogram, according to research published on bmj.com today.
Author, Kath Moser and colleagues at the University of Oxford, highlight the need for information on patients' ethnicity and some indicators of their socioeconomic status to be collected routinely in general practice to help document inequalities in health screening.
The NHS Cancer Screening Programme invites women in England aged 50-70 for breast screening every three years, and women aged 25-64 for cervical screening every 3 to 5 years.
The authors commissioned ONS to ask women aged between 40 and 74 in the National Statistics Omnibus Survey: "Have you ever had a mammogram?" and "Have you ever had a cervical screening (the smear test or Pap test)?" and if so, the date of the last time they were screened. Over 3,000 women were interviewed between 2005 and 2007.
On a positive note the results show that most eligible women (84%) have had both breast and cervical screening, and only 3% of women have never had either. However, the results also reveal that women are more likely to have had a mammogram if they live in households with cars and own their home as opposed to renting.
Ethnicity is a key factor in whether women attend for cervical screening. White British women are far more likely to have had a cervical screening than women from other ethnic backgrounds. Cervical screening uptake was also greater among more educated women but was not associated with car/home ownership or where in the country women lived.
Professor Julietta Patnick, Director, NHS Cancer Screening Programmes, said: "The challenge for the screening programmes is to make sure our services reach all parts of the population so we can reduce health inequalities.
"On the one hand we need to look at where mammography is available to make it easy for women to get to their appointments without having to travel too far; while with cervical screening, we need to ensure we're providing information in an accessible way so all women can make informed decisions about whether or not to take up their invitation."
"Am not suprised about the findings, however, wealth is an indicator in the area of study. In Nigeria, level of education is more important than any other factor, not only of the woman but also the husband. We have a lot of wealthy, uneducated women who are unlikely to take up screening. Would like to conduct a similar study here in Nigeria." - Dr Nana Madugu, Nigeria