Effectiveness of health education to increase screening for cervical cancer among eastern-band Cherokee Indian women in North Carolina

M Dignan, R Michielutte, K Blinson, H B Wells, L D Case, P Sharp, S Davis, J Konen, R P McQuellon
Journal of the National Cancer Institute 1996 November 20, 88 (22): 1670-6

BACKGROUND: The North Carolina Native American Cervical Cancer Prevention Project was a 5-year, National Cancer Institute-funded trial of health education designed to increase screening for cervical cancer among Native-American women in North Carolina.

PURPOSE: This study was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of this education program in the Eastern-Band Cherokee target population.

METHODS: Cherokee tribal lands were mapped and all households (N = 2223) were listed to ensure maximum coverage of the eligible population (women, aged 18 years and older, who were enrolled tribal members). Eligible women were identified by the use of a brief questionnaire administered to an adult member of the household. Of the 1279 households with eligible women, 1020 (79.8%) agreed to participate. The intervention was an individualized health education program delivered by female Cherokee lay health educators. The participants were randomly assigned to receive or not to receive the intervention (i.e., to program and control groups, respectively) by use of the Solomon Four-Group design. Data were collected in face-to-face interviews conducted in the participant's home. Of the 996 women who were ultimately enrolled, 540 were randomly assigned to receive a pretest (preintervention) interview that involved administration of a 96-item questionnaire designed to collect data on knowledge, intentions, and behaviors related to cervical cancer; of these 540 women, 263 were randomly assigned to receive the education program. The remaining 456 women did not receive the pretest, but 218 were randomly assigned to receive the education program. Six months after receiving the education program, the women in all four groups were administered a post-test that was identical to the pretest. Logistic regression was used to assess the effects of the pretest and the educational program. All P values resulted from two-sided statistical tests.

RESULTS: Eight hundred and fifteen (81.8%) of the 996 participants completed the post-test interview. The remaining 181 women who were lost to follow-up were evenly distributed among the four study groups. At the post-test, 282 (73.2%) of the 385 women who received the education program reported having had a Pap smear following the intervention, compared with 275 (64%) of the 430 control subjects. Women who received the education program were more likely to answer all knowledge items correctly on the post-test (odds ratio [OR] = 2.18, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.08-4.39) and to report having obtained a Pap smear in the past year (OR = 2.06, 95% CI = 1.14-3.72) than women in the control groups.

CONCLUSION: Women who received the education program exhibited a greater knowledge about cervical cancer prevention and were more likely to have reported having had a Pap smear within the past year than women who did not receive the program.

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