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Cancer. 1996 Oct 1;78(7 Suppl):1592-7.

American Indian women's talking circle. A cervical cancer screening and prevention project.

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University of California at Berkeley, School of Public Health, USA.



Cervical cancer is important to American Indian women due to high mortality and low survival rates compared with other ethnic groups. This article describes the development and implementation of a culturally acceptable cervical cancer screening program in urban and rural American Indian health clinics in California.


A team of researchers used social learning theory, research data, and focus groups to design a cervical cancer screening program. The major component of the program was the adaptation of a culturally acceptable mode of communication called Talking Circles. The American Indian Talking Circle project used the Talking Circle format, coupled with traditional Indian stories, as a vehicle to provide cancer education and to improve adherence to cancer screening. Eight American Indian clinics were randomly assigned into intervention and control sites (n = 400 women). The intervention was administered to 200 Indian women 18 years and older in four American Indian clinics; four additional American Indian clinics (n = 200 women) served as control sites.


Preliminary results from the research show that American Indian women responded favorably to a culturally framed education project. Initial reports indicate that health-related information is accepted and acted on when it is coupled with cultural information that is presented in a sensitive manner. Final evaluation of the project is forthcoming.


Utilizing a culturally acceptable intervention has the potential to improve the health status of American Indian Women.

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