Increasing Utilization of Preventive Care in Asian American Women in Massachusetts
The Tisch College Community Research Center (TCRC) provided seed funding for this project, which sought to better understand and address factors that impede utilization of preventive services by Asian American women in local communities.
Through ethnicity-specific focus groups with women who have insurance yet do not comply with screening guidelines, the study qualitatively explored Asian American women’s barriers to utilization of these services, particularly breast and cervical cancer screening, with the long-term goal is to reduce these barriers in order to increase cancer screening rates. The research team developed a Focus Group Facilitation Guide applicable to specific research questions and designed to guide the planning and facilitation of any focus group. The researchers then trained community partners in focus group facilitation, developed recruitment materials and a screening script for focus group participants of ethnic minority women, developed Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) training and trained community partners, and conducted the focus groups. Major findings indicated that cultural beliefs, preventive care knowledge, and patient-provider attitudes influenced whether a woman would seek screening. Barriers included cultural norms about sexual activity and virginity, lack of knowledge about the risks and benefits of the breast and cervical cancer screenings, and lack of knowledge about how the tests were conducted and whether they were painful. In addition, women reported a lack of knowledge and confusion about recommended guidelines for breast and cervical cancer screenings. Finally, researchers found that some women do not know that there is no charge for screenings and that cost can be a tipping point for some when added to the time and discomfort involved in getting screened.
These findings were presented at the Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) Together, Strengthening the Health of Chinatown: An Asian Health Symposium, a collaboration between Tufts academics and Asian American community partners. As a community-based participatory research (CBPR) project, the study was conducted in conjunction with local leaders and organizations.