Assessing Cervical Cancer Knowledge Among High-Risk Women Living in the US-Mexico Border Region in El Paso, TX

Crystal Costa, University of Texas at El Paso


Despite major decreases in cervical cancer incidence rates in the U.S. over the past several decades, certain populations of women continue to be disproportionately affected by it. One of these groups includes US Latina/Hispanic women who have the highest cervical cancer incidence rates as compared to their racial/ethnic counterparts. To improve detection and prevention in US Latina/Hispanic women, it is important to first understand their current knowledge and health literacy with regard to cervical cancer. This cross-sectional study examined perceived self-knowledge of cervical cancer and cervical cancer functional health literacy in high-risk Hispanic women living in the El Paso, Texas border region. Women were recruited via health clinic flyers and word-of- mouth from downtown El Paso neighborhoods and surrounding neighborhoods in the border region. Data were collected through phone interviews using a questionnaire that queried demographic and self-reported anthropometric measures, perceived self- knowledge of cervical cancer, vaccine history, and family history of disease. In addition, a previously standardized health literacy assessment instrument, Cervical Cancer Literacy Assessment Tool (C-CLAT), was administered. IRB approval was obtained from the University of Texas at El Paso. Descriptive and inferential data analyses were conducted with data from 85 women Latina/Hispanic women, ages 18-65, currently living in the El Paso border region. Descriptive analyses revealed that over 50% of women had never received printed information regarding cervical cancer. Moreover, of those that said they knew what cervical cancer was (75.3%), only about half were able to demonstrate basic knowledge of the disease. As compared to women who did not know what cervical cancer was, cervical cancer health literacy scores were significantly higher among women that were able to demonstrate cervical cancer knowledge. Surprisingly, functional health literacy was not predicted by whether women had previously received any health information regarding the disease, or whether women had previously received printed health information regarding the disease. We concluded that current education regarding cervical cancer among Latina/Hispanic women in the El Paso border region may be both seriously lacking and inadequate when provided. The practice of educating women about cervical cancer must be instituted in our medical and public health communities; approaches for education must be expanded to include media and content that are both culturally sensitive and easy to understand. Perhaps most importantly, women must be educated on minimum prevention behaviors to ensure early disease detection.

Subject Area

Public health|Public Health Education|Oncology|Health care management|Regional Studies|Latin American Studies|Ethnic studies|Womens studies|Demography

Recommended Citation

Costa, Crystal, "Assessing Cervical Cancer Knowledge Among High-Risk Women Living in the US-Mexico Border Region in El Paso, TX" (2020). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI28088865.