Understanding current racial/ethnic disparities in colorectal cancer screening in the United States: the contribution of socioeconomic status and access to care

David T Liss, David W Baker
American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2014, 46 (3): 228-36

BACKGROUND: Prior studies have shown racial/ethnic disparities in colorectal cancer (CRC) screening but have not provided a full national picture of disparities across all major racial/ethnic groups.

PURPOSE: To provide a more complete, up-to-date picture of racial/ethnic disparities in CRC screening and contributing socioeconomic and access barriers.

METHODS: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data from 2010 were analyzed in 2013. Hispanic/Latino participants were stratified by preferred language (Hispanic-English versus Hispanic-Spanish). Non-Hispanics were categorized as White, Black, Asian, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, or American Indian/Alaska Native. Sequential regression models estimated adjusted relative risks (RRs) and the degree to which SES and access to care explained disparities.

RESULTS: Overall, 59.6% reported being up-to-date on CRC screening. Self-reported CRC screening was highest in the White (62.0%) racial/ethnic group; followed by Black (59.0%); Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (54.6%); Hispanic-English (52.5%); American Indian/Alaska Native (49.5%); Asian (47.2%); and Hispanic-Spanish (30.6%) groups. Adjustment for SES and access partially explained disparities between Whites and Hispanic-Spanish (final relative risk [RR]=0.76, 95% CI=0.69, 0.83); Hispanic-English (RR=0.94, 95% CI=0.91, 0.98); and American Indian/Alaska Native (RR=0.91, 95% CI=0.85, 0.97) groups. The RR of screening among Asians was unchanged after adjustment for SES and access (0.78, p<0.001). After full adjustment, screening rates were not significantly different among Whites, Blacks, or Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders.

CONCLUSIONS: Large racial/ethnic disparities in CRC screening persist, including substantial differences between English-speaking versus Spanish-speaking Hispanics. Disparities are only partially explained by SES and access to care. Future studies should explore the low rate of screening among Asians and how it varies by racial/ethnic subgroup and language.

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