Perceptions of Cervical Cancer Among Mexican Farmworker Women in Rural Georgia

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Cancer health disparities affect Latina women with cervical cancer incidence rates of 11.8 per 100,000 and mortality rates of 3 per 100,000 compared to rates of White women, which are 7.2 per 100,000 and 2.1 per 100,000, respectively. We explored Pap screening behaviors, acculturation levels, and cervical cancer beliefs among Mexican farmworker women in Southeast Georgia.

We recruited a purposive sample of 39 Mexican women meeting eligibility criteria (farmworker background, no Pap test in >3 years, Mexican origin). We administered questionnaires to collect information on socio-demographic characteristics, Pap screening behaviors, acculturation levels, and cervical cancer beliefs. We calculated frequencies and percentages of demographic, health history, and acculturation variables and used principal components analysis to estimate consensus on cervical cancer risk factor and belief responses.

Average age for the sample was 39 (SD = 10.5), with an average of 8 years of schooling (SD = 4.6); 20 (51%) of women have lived in the U.S. ≤ 10 years. Most women 30 (77%) had a Pap test more than three years ago. Thirty-one (79%) women reported intent for next Pap 1 year or less; 4 women (10%) >1 not more than 3 years; 4 (10%) had just had their first Pap or did not know. Based on responses to open-ended questions about cervical cancer, 27 (69%) women did not know or knew very little about it. There was consensus for the 24 agree/disagree questions about cervical cancer causes (Eigenratio = 5.9) and 7 agree/disagree statements on attitudes and beliefs (Eigenratio = 5.0).

Women’s attitudes and beliefs regarding cervical cancer did not differ by years of living in the United States. There were misperceptions of what constitute cervical cancer risk factors and inconsistent endorsement of actual risk factors. Culturally-tailored interventions should focus on exploring cognitive schemas associated with cervical cancer risk factors and beliefs, and debunking myths associated with cervical cancer within the Mexican immigrant population.


Society for Behavioral Medicine Annual Meeting (SBM)


Philadelphia, PA