Mental illness: is there an association with cancer screening among women veterans? Academic Article uri icon


  • Mental illness may be a barrier to achieving timely and appropriate cancer screening. We evaluated the association of mental illness with receipt of and adherence to breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screening among women Veterans.The study population included all female Veterans ages 50 to 65 who obtained care at the New Mexico VA Health Care System continuously from fiscal years 2004 to 2006 (n = 606). Measures were odds ratios (OR) for receipt of any cancer screening, and adherence to recommended cancer screening frequency, adjusted for age, insurance, service connection, and primary care and women's clinic visits.Overall, 53% of the women had a mental health diagnosis (MHD). Women with an MHD were less likely to adhere to recommended breast cancer screening than women without MHD: unadjusted OR (95% CI): 0.73 (0.54-0.98; p < .05), adjusted OR (aOR) (95% CI) 0.60 (0.44-0.82; p < .01). Women with an MHD were as likely as women without MHD to receive any breast, cervical, and colon cancer screening: Respective aORs (95% CI): 0.79 (0.50-1.25); 1.71 (0.91-3.21); and 0.85 (0.56-1.28).Women with a mental illness are at risk for not adhering to recommended routine breast cancer screening, and may require more intensive efforts to achieve optimal rates of recommended breast cancer screening.Published by Elsevier Inc.