Is there a language divide in Pap test use?

Ninez A. Ponce, Neetu Chawla, Susan H. Babey, Melissa S. Gatchell, David A. Etzioni, Benjamin A. Spencer, E. Richard Brown, Nancy Breen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: We sought to determine whether primary language use, measured by language of interview, is associated with disparities in cervical cancer screening. DATA SOURCES: We undertook a secondary data analysis of a pooled sample of the 2001 and 2003 California Health Interview Surveys. The surveys were conducted in English, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, and Vietnamese. STUDY DESIGN: The study was a cross-sectional analysis of 3-year Pap test use among women ages 18 to 64, with no reported cervical cancer diagnosis or hysterectomy (n = 38,931). In addition to language of interview, other factors studied included race/ethnicity, marital status, income, educational attainment, years lived in the United States, insurance status, usual source of care, smoking status, area of residence, and self-rated health status. DATA COLLECTION/EXTRACTION METHODS: We fit weighted multivariate logit models predicting 3-year Pap test use as a function of language of interview, adjusting for the effects of specified covariates. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Compared with the referent English interview group, women who interviewed in Spanish were 1.65 times more likely to receive a Pap test in the past 3 years. In contrast, we observed a significantly reduced risk of screening among women who interviewed in Vietnamese (odds ratio [OR] 0.67; confidence interval [CI] 0.48-0.93), Cantonese (OR 0.44; 95% CI 0.30-0.66), Mandarin (OR 0.48; 95% CI 0.33-0.72), and Korean (OR 0.62; 0.40-0.98). CONCLUSIONS: Improved language access could reduce cancer screening disparities, especially in the Asian immigrant community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)998-1004
Number of pages7
JournalMedical care
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2006


  • Language disparities
  • Pap test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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