What Women Want: Patient Recommendations for Improving Access to Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening and Follow-up

Daiva M. Ragas, Narissa J. Nonzee, Laura S. Tom, Ava M. Phisuthikul, Thanh Ha Luu, Xin Qi Dong, Melissa A. Simon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: The patient voice remains underrepresented in clinical and public health interventions. To inform interventions that strive to improve access to breast and cervical cancer screening and follow-up among low-income populations, we explored recommendations from low-income women pursuing health care in the safety net. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted among women receiving follow-up care for an abnormal breast or cervical cancer screening result or a positive cancer diagnosis in federally qualified health centers, free clinics, or an academic cancer center in the Chicago metropolitan area. Findings: Of the 138 women interviewed in the parent study, 52 women provided recommendations for improving access to screening and follow-up care. Most were between 41 and 65years old (62%) and African American (60%) or White (25%). Recommendations included strengthening community-based health education with more urgent messaging, strategic partnerships, and active learning experiences to increase patient engagement, which women regarded as a key driver of access. Women also suggested increasing access by way of changes to health care delivery systems and policy, including more direct patient-provider and patient-clinic communications, addressing delays caused by high patient volume, combining preventive services, expanding insurance coverage, and adjusting screening guidelines. Conclusions: This exploratory study demonstrates important insights from the patient lens that may help to increase the acceptability and efficacy of community and clinical interventions aimed at improving access to breast and cervical cancer screening and follow-up. Further research is needed to identify appropriate integration of patient input into interventions, practice, and policy change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)511-518
Number of pages8
JournalWomen's Health Issues
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Maternity and Midwifery


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