Wealth and ethnicity link to screening attendance

White British women are more likely to attend for cervical screening than women from other ethnic groups, and women who own a car or home are more likely to have had a mammogram, a UK study suggests.

Photograph: Istock
Photograph: Istock

The findings highlight the need for information on patients’ ethnicity and some indicators of their socioeconomic status to be collected routinely in general practice to help document inequalities in health screening.

For the study, over 3,000 women, aged 40-74, were asked whether they had attended screening for cervical cancer and breast cancer between 2005 and 2007.

The researchers found that women are more likely to have had a mammogram if they live in households with cars and own their home as opposed to renting.

Ethnicity was found to be a key factor in whether women attend for cervical screening. White British women were far more likely to have had a cervical screening than women from other ethnic backgrounds.

Professor Julietta Patnick, director for NHS Cancer Screening Programmes, said: ‘The challenge for the screening programmes is to make sure our services reach all parts of the population so we can reduce health inequalities.’

Dr Lesley Walker, director of cancer information at Cancer Research UK, added: ‘Next week, Cancer Research UK will be publishing the first national report that looks at cancer incidence among different ethnic groups. This is the first step in an important project that will help to address inequalities like this.’


BMJ Online 2009

  • Are wealth and ethnicity factors in screening attendance?

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