Multi-Pronged Solutions Addressing Barriers to Breast Screening Access in Appalachia

Cara Brooks Safon 1 * , George Batten 2, Gloribel Bonilla 2, Brenna Robinson 2, Fabian Camacho 2, Jennifer Harvey 3, Roger Anderson 4, Marianne Messersmith Hillemeier 5, Christopher Louis 1

AM J QUALITATIVE RES, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp. 40-62

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Annual mammography screening is recommended by the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and American Cancer Society (ACS) to reduce mortality through early detection of breast cancer. In rural Appalachia, rates of later-stage breast cancer incidence and mortality are higher than national averages. We explored the ways that providers and staff at breast cancer screening facilities employed novel approaches to overcome patient- and facility-level barriers to access to breast cancer screening in the Appalachian region. We conducted 23 semi-structured interviews with 28 clinical providers and staff of breast health facilities in Appalachia. Themes reflect how limiting features of breast screening facilities influenced access to care; the way patient-level barriers presented challenges to access to breast screening; and that external and regulatory forces presented obstacles to access to care. In addition, the unique geographical and geographical attributes of the Appalachian region shaped access and adherence to mammography screening recommendations. Thematic findings highlight that facilities implemented patient-centered strategies to overcome access-related barriers. Results may inform the ways breast cancer screening facilities address suboptimal access to breast health screening. They may also inform future resource allocations to enable facilities to reach breast cancer screening performance goals.

Keywords: rural health, breast cancer, preventive health care, women’s health.