A team of researchers from the University of Toronto have found that women suffering from Chronic Health Issues receive breast cancer screening more frequently compared to women who have no serious health issues or chronic diseases.
In the study entitled “Level of disability, multi-morbidity and breast cancer screening: Does severity matter?” published in the Preventive Medicine journal, researchers used two waves of the Canadian Community Health Survey (2005 and 2007/08) to design a retrospective population-based cohort study. They linked administrative and self-reported survey data to identify breast cancer screening in Ontario, comparing level of disability and multi-morbidity among women.
This study proved to be consistent with previous results that reveal that sociological factors such as lower income levels and poor education are indeed found to impact whether or not women receive breast cancer screenings as frequently as women with higher economic and education rates. Furthermore, previous studies had already demonstrated that women who have a certain degree of disability are screened more often, probably a result of visiting doctors and specialists more frequently, as well as being more actively engaged in the state of their own health.
Nonetheless, this present study has revealed that women who have moderate disabilities have higher screening rates when compared with women who have severe health issues who, in line with the previous thought, have increased contact with their doctors.
“Despite the presence of a universal health insurance system in Ontario, our research highlights the persistence of significant health disparities in breast cancer screening, particularly for women who are more vulnerable due to severe disability, multiple chronic conditions, low income and lower education,” lead author Dr. Sara Guilcher, a Clinical Epidemiology researcher at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto said in a St. Michael’s Hospital press release.
The results demonstrated that among the 10,363 women analyzed (aged 50 to 69 years old), 4660 reported some level of disability. Women with moderate disability had higher screening rates (71.4%) than women with no disability (62.0%) and women with severe disability (67.9%). Furthermore, women with a single chronic condition were more likely to be screened than women with no chronic conditions.
Breast cancer is still the most common cancer in women around the world, however the mortality rates have significantly decreased due to advances in treatment and prevention. “Women who are at a lower socioeconomic position may be less likely to be assertive and to be strong advocates for their health care management,” Dr. Guilcher added in the press release.