HealthDay News — Underserved female Hispanic patients view interactive voice response messages as an acceptable strategy to promote cancer screening, according to researchers.

“As community health centers continue to develop information technology systems, opportunities exist to increase the systematization and efficiency of e-health strategies to remind patients of overdue cancer screenings that are both sustainable and scalable,” Mary L. Greaney, PhD, from the University of Rhode Island in Kingston, and colleagues reported in the CDC’s Preventing Chronic Disease.

Hispanic women have lower screening rates for breast (mammogram within past year, 46.5% vs 51.5%), cervical (74.7% vs. 79.1%) and colorectal cancer (51.2% vs 60.2%) compared with white women, CDC data indicate.

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So the researchers conducted seven focus groups with 40 female Hispanic community health center patients in need of one or more cancer screenings to determine barriers to cancer screening.

Five of the groups were for women in need of one screening (breast, cervical, or colorectal; n=28) and two were for women who required multiple screenings (n=12).

Participants were familiar with cancer screening and viewed the process positively, the researchers found. However, many were unaware of being overdue for screening, lacked referral or had insufficient insurance coverage, expressed embarrassment or fear of the procedure, and feared outcomes.

Women who needed single screening expressed greater worry about the outcome, whereas those in need of multiple screenings were more concerned about the procedures.

Participants were generally receptive to interactive voice response messages. They expressed that they would be motivated to schedule needed screening with culturally appropriate messages that specified needed screenings, while highlighting the benefits of preventive screening.

Participants also said they would prefer to receive information about preparing for the screening, clinic hours and transportation options.

“These efforts can reduce organizational burden cost-effectively, especially if the EMR can automatically initiate interactive voice response calls according to individual need,” the researchers said.v “Additional research is needed to determine the effectiveness of interactive voice response messages in promoting completion of cancer screening.”


  1. Greaney ML et al. Prev Chronic Dis. 2014;11:130213.