A Health Education and Patient Navigation Program Increased Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening for Rural and Border Texas Residents
University of Texas at Austin Population Research Center
In the Texas-Mexico border region, women who live in lower socioeconomic status areas have lower breast and cervical cancer screening and higher cancer-related mortality than their counterparts in higher socioeconomic status areas. Studies have also reported several barriers to cancer screening in Texas border counties, including cost and transportation challenges. Patient navigation – or programs that provide support to help people overcome barriers to care – has been shown to increase breast and cervical cancer screening rates among different populations. However, few studies have focused on patient navigation to increase breast and cervical cancer screening among rural and border populations. To address this gap in knowledge, former UT Austin School of Social Work T32 recipient Derek Falk, PRC faculty scholar Catherine Cubbin, and UT colleague Barbara Jones, examined the impact of patient navigation services on clinical screening for breast and cervical cancer among women who attended an educational program. They also identified variation in breast and cervical cancer screening rates by rural and border counties in Texas. They found that patient navigation services increased receipt of breast and cervical cancer screening among women reporting barriers to care. They argue for the importance of health care systems to invest in supportive care services to improve outcomes for underserved populations in the United States.