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Am J Public Health. 2005 Oct;95(10):1712-7.

Preventive care for women in prison: a qualitative community health assessment of the Papanicolaou test and follow-up treatment at a California state women's prison.

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  • 1Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, Department of Health Education, University of California-San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143-1726, USA.


Growing evidence indicates that women in prison are particularly vulnerable to many negative health outcomes, including cervical cancer. The Papanicolaou (Pap) test is an effective tool to screen for this disease. To determine what is and is not working with the Pap test and follow-up treatment, we performed qualitative interviews with women prisoners and key informants at a California state women's prison. Our assessment revealed that the process of administering Pap tests at this institution was not meeting the health care needs of the women interviewed. Women reported having negative experiences during the test and with their health care providers. Additionally the prison's culture and infrastructure create obstacles that hinder prisoners from receiving quality care and providers from delivering that care. In response, women prisoners use self-and community advocacy to meet their health care needs and cope with these challenges.

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