Social determinants of breast cancer screening in urban primary care practices: a community-engaged formative study. Academic Article uri icon


  • The recent decline in the breast cancer mortality rate can be attributed to intensive screening and early detection efforts. However, studies have documented a decline in self-reported recent mammography use and interventions to enhance mammography utilization have yielded modest improvements. To address the root causes of breast cancer disparities and improve mammography use, interventions need to address multiple layers of patient, provider, and health system factors.Using community-based participatory research principles, we sought to learn from women receiving care through urban primary care practices about issues surrounding mammography screening and strategies to increase screening.We conducted five focus groups among 41 eligible women who were predominantly African American, recruited using nonprobability purposive sampling methods from urban community health centers in Baltimore, Maryland. Data are reported from three focus groups (n = 28) that provided usable data. We used the social determinants of health perspective to conduct a qualitative content analysis and interpretation of the data.Major obstacles to obtaining a screening mammogram were individual-level (i.e., pain from the procedure) and structural-level factors (i.e., cost, geography, convenience). Strategies to overcome obstacles could include the creation of structural mechanisms whereby women can receive a host of services during one visit to a healthcare professional's office. Important promoters of screening behavior included social-level factors such as social support, hope, and positive treatment outcomes.The social determinants of health perspective provided a unique perspective to frame barriers and promoters of mammography utilization and insights to develop interventions aimed at improving cancer control among women receiving care at urban primary care health centers.Copyright © 2012 Jacobs Institute of Women's Health. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

publication date

  • January 1, 2012