Social networks and cancer screening in four U.S. Hispanic groups

Lucina Suarez, Amelie G. Ramirez, Roberto Villarreal, Jose Marti, Alfred McAlister, Gregory A. Talavera, Edward Trapido, Eliseo J. Perez-Stable

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


Background: Evidence shows that social relationships play an important role in health and health behavior. We examined the relationship between social networks and cancer screening among four U.S. Hispanic groups. Methods: We used telephone surveys to collect data in eight U.S. regions that have concentrations of diverse Hispanic-origin populations. We interviewed 8903 Hispanic adults, for a response rate of 83%; analysis was restricted to the 2383 women aged ≥40. As a measure of social integration, we formed a social network index from items on the number of close relatives and friends, frequency of contact, and church membership. We used logistic regression to estimate the effects of social integration on screening, adjusting for sociodemographic factors. Results: Among Mexican, Cuban, and Central-American women, the effect of social integration on mammography screening was slight. The odds ratios (OR) per unit change in social integration category ranged from 1.16 to 1.22 with confidence intervals (CI) that overlapped with the null. For Pap smear screening, the effect was strongest among Mexican-American women (OR=1.44, 95% CI=1.21 to 1.72), but also evident among Central-American women (OR=1.22, 95% CI=0.72 to 2.06) and Cuban women (OR = 1.25, 95% CI = 0.81 to 1.93). Among Puerto Rican women, social integration had no effect on either mammography (OR=1.03) or Pap smear screening (OR=1.08). Conclusions: Independent of socioeconomic factors, social integration appears to influence cancer screening participation of Hispanic women. The modest effect is not universal across Hispanic groups and was stronger for Pap smear than for mammography screening behavior. Researchers should recognize Hispanic group differences in social network characteristics and the potential of social networks to change screening behavior. Copyright (C) 2000 American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-52
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Epidemiology


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