Perceived Susceptibility to Cervical Cancer among African American Women in the Mississippi Delta: Does Adherence to Screening Matter?

Academic Article


  • Background: Although preventive measures have greatly decreased the national burden of cervical cancer, racial/ethnic and geographic disparities remain, including the disproportionate incidence and mortality among African American women in the Mississippi Delta. Along with structural barriers, health perceptions and cultural beliefs influence participation in cervical screening. This study examined perceived susceptibility to cervical cancer among African American women in the Delta across three groups: 1) women attending screening appointments (screened), 2) women attending colposcopy clinic following an abnormal Papanicolaou test (colposcopy), and 3) women with no screening in 3 years or longer (unscreened/underscreened). Methods: Data were collected during a study assessing the feasibility/acceptability of self-collected sampling for human papillomavirus (HPV) testing as a cervical screening modality. A questionnaire assessed demographics, health care access, and cervical cancer knowledge and beliefs (including perceived susceptibility). Participants were asked, “Do you think you are at risk for cervical cancer?” and responses included yes, no, and I don't know. Multinomial logistic regression models compared variables associated with answers among each group. Results: Of 524 participants, one-half did not know if they were at risk of cervical cancer (50%) or HPV exposure (53%). Between the unscreened/underscreened (n = 160), screened (n = 198), and colposcopy (n = 166) groups, age (p <.001), education (p =.02), and perceived risk of HPV exposure (p <.01) differed. Older age and younger age at first intercourse (unscreened/underscreened), family history and screening recommendations (screened), and family history and perceived risk of HPV exposure (colposcopy) were associated with perceived susceptibility to cervical cancer. Conclusions: Differences in the perceived susceptibility to cervical cancer exist between African American women in the Delta. Understanding these variations can help in developing strategies to promote screening among this population with a high burden of disease.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Gibson EG; Gage JC; Castle PE; Scarinci IC
  • Start Page

  • 38
  • End Page

  • 47
  • Volume

  • 29
  • Issue

  • 1