Information sources influencing urban Mexican-American women's cancer screening participation

Annette Catarina Seibt, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Breast and cervical cancer, though less common in Mexican-American than in Anglo women, are more likely to go undetected in Mexican-American women, leaving them more vulnerable to advanced disease and death. Although highly effective screening tests--the Pap smear and the mammogram--can detect these cancers early, many Mexican-American women do not regularly undergo these preventive screening tests. To explore the differential influence of encouraging sources of health information, this investigation examined the relationship between encouragement from a "peer"--husband or partner, child or children, other family members, or close friends--and a "health professional"--a doctor, a nurse, or another health professional--on Mexican-American women's cancer screening intentions and behaviors. Furthermore, this research explored whether the sources' influence on cancer screening intentions and behaviors differed depending on level of acculturation. One thousand seven hundred eleven surveys of Mexican-American women were analyzed to identify the source that most effectively encourages these women to participate in cancer screening. The data provided evidence that health professionals strongly influenced this population's cancer screening intentions and behaviors. Evidence for peer influence was also found; however, it was usually weaker, and, in some cases, negligible. Peer encouragement was related to Pap test behaviors and mammogram intentions, but not to Pap test intentions or mammogram behaviors. Consistently, women reported greater intentions and screening behaviors when encouraged from a health professional than from a peer. Acculturation was not found to be a modifying variable related to the relationship between sources of information and Pap test or mammogram intentions and behaviors. Because health professionals were identified as strongly influencing both intentions and behaviors for Pap tests and mammograms, further efforts should be undertaken to urge them to encourage their clients to obtain cancer screening. Failure to provide this encouragement leads to missed opportunities. Enlisting support from peers also may help to increase cancer screening participation in urban Mexican-American women; however, the consistently greater intentions and behaviors related to a health professional's encouragement indicated the greater power of the latter.

Subject Area

Public health|Social psychology|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Seibt, Annette Catarina, "Information sources influencing urban Mexican-American women's cancer screening participation" (1993). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9422050.