Acculturation and cervical cancer: Knowledge, beliefs, and behaviors of Hispanic women

Mary P. Harmon, Felipe Castro, Kathryn Coe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


In a community-based sample of Hispanic women, this study examines differences in relation to level of acculturation in knowledge about the Pap examination, fear/fatalism towards cancer, and cervical cancer screening behaviors. Respondents were randomly chosen from 11 churches in the Phoenix metropolitan area (n = 566) and were categorized into three acculturation levels: low (35.2%), bicultural (26.3%), and high (38.5%). Interviews focused on family history of cancer as well as knowledge about cancer and utilization of screening techniques for breast and cervical cancers. OLS regression and probit analyses were conducted to examine the role of acculturation: in differentiating Hispanic subgroups in relation to knowledge, beliefs, and behaviors regarding cervical cancer. Findings of the present study indicate that Hispanic women in the Phoenix metropolitan area are utilizing cervical cancer screening services with over 90 percent of women in all three acculturation groups ever having had a Pap exam and more than 50 percent having had the examination during the past year. However, results also indicate that of the Hispanic subgroups examined, lower acculturated Hispanic women have less knowledge about Pap smears and exhibit lower utilization rates for cervical cancer screening. These results suggest that lower-acculturated Hispanic women comprise the subgroup of Hispanics that is at greatest risk of presenting with advanced stages of cervical cancer. Results have implications for cancer screening and education programs for Hispanic women as well as implications for health care professionals who serve this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-57
Number of pages21
JournalWomen and Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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