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Public Health Rep. 1993 Jan-Feb; 108(1): 76–86.
PMCID: PMC1403334

Factors associated with obtaining health screening among women of reproductive age.


Death and disability associated with breast and cervical cancer and hypertension can be reduced by early detection and treatment. The authors examined the rates for having obtained a Papanicolaou (Pap) test or pelvic examination, a breast physical examination, and a blood pressure test within the last 12 months among women of reproductive age in the United States in 1988, as reported by the 8,450 women interviewed for the 1988 National Survey of Family Growth. Overall, the annual rates of screening for women ages 15-44 years for those tests were 67 percent for a Pap test or pelvic examination, 67 percent for a breast examination, and 82 percent for a blood pressure test. Standard recommendations for the frequency of screening and survey data were examined to see whether actual screening practice was consistent with those recommendations. More than 90 percent of women who had a family planning service visit within 12 months received each of the tests, regardless of who provided the service or who paid for the visit. Women who were not sexually active, women with little education or low income, American Indian women, Hispanic women, and women of Asian or Pacific Islander descent had lower rates of screening than others, regardless of their risk status. These findings strongly suggest that the likelihood of having obtained screening among women 15-44 years old is determined primarily by how often a woman uses health care, rather than by her risk of disease.

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Selected References

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