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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2008 Aug;17(8):2169-73. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-07-2692.

Effect of language on colorectal cancer screening among Latinos and non-Latinos.

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Center for Primary Care and Prevention, Memorial Hospital of RI, 111 Brewster Street, Pawtucket, RI 02860, USA.



Language barriers among some Latinos may contribute to the lower rates of colorectal cancer (CRC) screening between Latinos and non-Latino Whites. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between language and receipt of CRC screening tests among Latinos and non-Latinos using a geographically diverse, population-based sample of adults.


Cross-sectional analysis of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey. Analysis included adults age 50 years and older, who completed the 2006 BRFSS in a state that recorded data from English- and Spanish-speaking participants.


The primary outcome measure was receipt of colorectal screening tests (fecal occult blood testing within prior 12 months and/or lower endoscopy within 10 years). Of the 99,895 respondents included in the study populations, 33% of Latinos responding-in-Spanish reported having had CRC testing, whereas 51% of Latinos responding-in-English and 62% of English-speaking non-Latinos reported test receipt. In multivariable analysis, compared with non-Latinos, Latinos responding-in-English were 16% less likely to have received CRC testing [odds ratio (OR), 0.84; 95% confidence interval (95% CI), 0.73-0.98], and Latinos responding-in-Spanish were 43% less likely to have received CRC testing (OR, 0.57; 95% CI, 0.44-0.74). Additionally, compared with Latinos responding-in-English, Latinos responding-in-Spanish were 36% less likely to have received CRC testing (OR, 0.64; 95% CI, 0.48-0.84).


Latinos responding to the 2006 BRFSS survey in Spanish had a significantly lower likelihood of receiving CRC screening tests compared with non-Latinos and to Latinos responding-in-English. Based on this analysis, Spanish language use is negatively associated with CRC screening and may contribute to disparities in CRC screening.

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