Cancer Control Research5R21CA100256-02
De Alba, Israel
CULTURE, GENDER AND PAP SMEAR USE AMONG LATINAS
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer persist as a significant problem among Latinas (Hispanic women), despite the widespread availability of low-cost screening. The incidence of cervical cancer is higher and the use of Pap smears is lower among Latinas than among most other ethnic groups. Latinas also tend to be younger at the time of diagnosis and to present at more advanced stages when compared to White women. There is strong evidence that human papillomavirus is causally associated with cervical cancer. Because of this relationship, the medical community now considers the disease to be sexually transmitted and has begun to encourage barrier methods of birth control for primary prevention of cervical cancer. Men now play an important role in the disease process. However, it is unclear whether the lay community shares this perception. Indeed, there are reasons to believe that informing Latinas that the disease is sexually transmitted may actually lead to decrease in Pap smear screening. We propose to conduct a qualitative study utilizing focus groups to initiate exploration of the knowledge, attitudes and behaviors of Latino men and women regarding cervical cancer as a preventable sexually transmitted disease. In doing so, we can begin to identify beliefs and barriers that may influence cervical health among Latinas and lay the foundation for a future intervention designed to improve cervical cancer screening through education of couples. Specifically, we will explore 1) knowledge and attitudes about the relationship between sexual activities and cervical cancer, 2) attitudes of men about Pap smear screening in general and the influence of men's attitudes on screening of their partners and 3) attitudes about the impact of viewing cervical cancer as a sexually transmitted disease on cervical cancer screening behavior. We will conduct 12 focus groups (6 with men and 6 with women) with participants recruited through a community-based organization. Our approach utilizing focus groups is ideal for exploratory studies that are designed to better understand culturally based beliefs and generate hypotheses for future research. The results of this study will lay the foundation for a future intervention aimed at preventing cervical cancer through the education of couples.