Access to health screening services among women with disabilities living in the Circumpolar North: Stories from women in Alaska

Lead Author Virginia, Miller
Institution Contact University of Alaska Anchorage Department of Health Sciences 3211 Providence Drive Anchorage AK 99508 USA
Co-Authors Karen Ward, University of Alaska Anchorage, USA
Theme Theme 4: Building Long-term Human Capacity
Session Name 4.4 Circumpolar Health and Well-Being
Datetime Wed, Sep 14, 2016 01:45 PM - 02:00 PM
Presentation Type Oral
Abstract text Background and significance: Health disparities in cancer morbidity and mortality have been identified as important public health problems. Lower rates of cancer screening and early detection are among factors contributing to more advanced disease at diagnosis and higher cancer death rates among the underserved. Access to primary care and health screening services may be very limited across the life course for women with disabilities, especially low-income women. Cancer screening services including pelvic examinations, clinical breast exams and mammograms, may be particularly difficult to obtain. CDC data highlight that compared with people without disabilities, women with disabilities are more likely to not have recommended screenings. Women with disabilities may encounter economic, environmental, attitudinal and informational barriers to receiving health services. Even among women with health insurance, many may still face significant barriers to breast and cervical cancer screening such as limited health literacy, less self-efficacy or self-confidence in obtaining screening, lack of provider recommendation, inconvenient times to access services, and language barriers.

Goal/Methods: In Alaska, the influence of climate, geography and limited public transportation may intensify problems with access to breast and cervical cancer screening, creating enormous personal, family and societal costs. Using a community-based participatory approach, our mixed methods study interviewed low-income women with disabilities living in Southcentral Alaska (N=40) to learn about access to and participation in breast and cervical cancer screening. The goal was to broaden the understanding of barriers to cancer screening services in order to tailor interventions to improve access. The semi-structured interviews consisted of an investigator- initiated survey instrument and a standardized quality of life tool.

Results/Recommendations: The narratives and recommendations from study participants to increase participation in screening based on their personal healthcare experiences will be presented in the context of health screening services and utilization in other regions of the Circumpolar North.
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