The influence of health beliefs on breast cancer screening utilization among South Texas Latinas
Underutilization of breast cancer screening programs among U.S. Latinas continues to be a troubling health concern as it has been associated with lower survival rates and more severe tumors at diagnosis for these women, and these risks are elevated for those Latinas living in the impoverished colonias regions of South Texas. To address these issues, this study employs the Health Belief Model to examine psychosocial determinants of breast cancer screening patterns of Latina women living in South Texas colonias, and adds a number of structural constraint variables to the model in order to test its applicability to this group. Face-to-face surveys with women aged 18 and older living in the major colonias of Del Rio and Eagle Pass, Texas assessed the knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about breast cancer and breast cancer screening, as well as their own usage of mammograms and clinical breast exams. Logistic regression results revealed that perceived barriers as well as having a doctor as a primary source of health information were associated with increased odds of ever having a mammogram and ever having a clinical breast exam. Insurance coverage and breast cancer knowledge were also shown to be salient structural predictors of breast cancer screening utilization for colonia Latinas. Nested logistic regression models showed perceived barriers had the greatest influence on ever having a mammogram of clinical breast exam. Given that unique cultural and societal barriers exist for this group of Latinas, cancer screening programs targeting this group may benefit by addressing these barriers.