Cervical screening in migrants to Australia

R J Taylor, H A Mamoon, S L Morrell, G V Wain
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health 2001, 25 (1): 55-61

OBJECTIVE: To examine differentials and time trends in self-reported Pap test rates by migrant status from the 1989/90 and 1995 Australian National Health Surveys (NHS).

METHOD: Unit record data for females with the variables of interest were extracted from the 1989/90 and 1995 NHS and combined. The dichotomous outcome variables were 'ever had a Pap test' and 'had a Pap test within three years'. The principal study factor was country-of-birth, but language spoken at home (English or not) was also examined. The indirect age-standardised screening ratio was used to calculate proportions of 'ever had a Pap test' and 'had a Pap test within three years' and differences were tested statistically using logistic regression analysis for each year of survey by migrant status.

RESULTS: Odds ratios for rates of reporting 'ever had a Pap test' were significantly lower in women born in southern Europe, Italy, other countries, southern Asia, Middle East, Greece and South-East Asia compared with Australian-born. Reported rates of 'ever had a Pap test' were significantly higher in the 1995 NHS (p<0.001). There were significant increases in screening for the Australian-born, New Zealand-born, and women born in southern Europe, South-East Asia, South Asia and Italy, and both English and non-English speakers over the 1989/90 and 1995 NHSs. Odds ratios for reporting 'had a Pap test within three years' showed significantly lower ORs for women born in the UK, Other countries, Middle East, Greece, and South-East Asia compared with the Australian-born.

CONCLUSIONS: This study reveals differentials in reported Pap test behaviour by country-of-birth in Australia and that reported screening rates have improved from the 1989/90 NHS to 1995 NHS in most country-of-birth groups.

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