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Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Practices among Disabled Women Aged 40–75: Does Quality of the Experience Matter?



Women with disabilities (WWD) face significant barriers accessing healthcare, which may affect rates of routine preventive services. We examined the relationship between disability status and routine breast and cervical cancer screening among middle-aged and older unmarried women and the differences in reported quality of the screening experience.


Data were from a 2003–2005 cross-sectional survey of 630 unmarried women in Rhode Island, 40–75 years of age, stratified by marital status (previously vs. never married) and partner gender (women who partner with men exclusively [WPM] vs. women who partner with women exclusively or with both women and men [WPW]).


WWD were more likely than those without a disability to be older, have a high school education or less, have household incomes <$30,000, be unemployed, and identify as nonwhite. In addition, WWD were less likely to report having the mammogram or Pap test procedure explained and more likely to report that the procedures were difficult to perform. After adjustment for important demographic characteristics, we found no differences in cancer screening behaviors by disability status. However, the quality of the cancer screening experience was consistently and significantly associated with likelihood of routine cancer screening.


Higher quality of cancer screening experience was significantly associated with likelihood of having routine breast and cervical cancer screening. Further studies should explore factors that affect quality of the screening experience, including facility characteristics and interactions with medical staff.

Published Citation

Liu, S. Y., & Clark, M. A. (2008). Breast and cervical cancer screening practices among disabled women aged 40-75: does quality of the experience matter?. Journal of women's health (2002), 17(8), 1321–1329. doi:10.1089/jwh.2007.0591

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