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Am J Prev Med. 1997 Nov-Dec;13(6):411-7.

Why a peer intervention program for Mexican-American women failed to modify the secular trend in cancer screening.

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Texas Cancer Registry, Texas Department of Health, Austin 78756-3199, USA.



We evaluated an intervention program for Mexican-American women to increase Pap smear and mammography screening.


The three-year intervention included the presentation of role models in the media and reinforcement by peer volunteers. We used a two-community (intervention and comparison) pre-post test design. Activities were targeted to a mainly Spanish-speaking, poverty-level, immigrant population. Pre- and postintervention screening rates were based on independent random samples of Mexican-American women 40 years and older.


Women reported a 6% absolute increase in Pap smear use similar to the 7% increase in the comparison community. Both communities experienced large but similar increases in recent mammography use (17% and 19%). Adjusting for differences in demographic factors, intervention and comparison changes remained identical.


Our peer intervention failed to accelerate the secular trend in cancer screening low-income Mexican-American women. Likely, promotional activities were too diffuse and the comparison community was contaminated with similar interventions. Strong social and market forces make it difficult to measure the effect of a specialized intervention on cancer screening rates.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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