JOURNAL ARTICLE

Risk factors for cervical cancer in criminal justice settings

Ingrid A Binswanger, Shane Mueller, C Brendan Clark, Karen L Cropsey
Journal of Women's Health 2011, 20 (12): 1839-45
22004180

BACKGROUND: Women in criminal justice settings have an increased prevalence of cervical cancer compared with the general population. However, little is known about abnormal cervical cancer screening results among women in jail and community-based criminal justice settings. Thus, the aims of this study were to compare the prevalence of self-reported abnormal Papanicolou (Pap) test results in women in jail and under community criminal justice supervision and to examine factors associated with abnormal Pap tests in these criminal justice settings.

METHODS: We analyzed data from two cross-sectional surveys of women in jails and community corrections in two Southern cities (n=380) about their history of abnormal Pap tests and risk factors for cervical cancer. Univariate analyses (analysis of variance [ANOVA] and chi-square) and a binary logistic regression analysis were conducted to test associations between a history of abnormal Pap testing and factors known to be associated with cervical cancer.

RESULTS: Nearly half of the women surveyed (n=163, 43%) reported ever having an abnormal Pap test. There was a high prevalence of risk factors for cervical cancer among women with and without an abnormal Pap test. After controlling for age and race, there were significant associations between an abnormal Pap test and inconsistent use of barrier protection (odds ratio [OR] 2.01, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.18-3.43), having a history of gynecologic infections (OR 1.68, 95% CI 1.05-2.67), and having a history of sexually transmitted diseases (OR 1.92, 95% CI 1.17-3.15).

CONCLUSIONS: Women in jail and under community justice supervision reported a high prevalence of risk factors for cervical cancer. Because of their high prevalence of abnormal Pap testing, women in criminal justice settings may be appropriate targets for improved cervical cancer screening, prevention with human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination, risk reduction education, and treatment.

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