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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UAB Researcher Studies Association between Socioeconomic Status and Cancer Screening

In a recent study led by Dr. Tomi Akinyemiju, assistant professor in the department of epidemiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, differences in cancer screening habits in relation to socioeconomic status (SES) over the life-course were examined among lower- and middle-class populations in China, India, Mexico, Russia, and South Africa. Analyzing 2007–2008 data from the WHO Study on global AGEing and adult health (SAGE) pertaining to 22,283 women from these countries—all between the ages of 18 and 65—potential links between SES over the life-course and screening for breast and cervical cancer were assessed, using survey-weighted multivariable regression analysis.


[Photo: Dr. Tomi Akinyemiju]

When surveying the study results, Dr. Akinyemiju observed, “Women with higher SES—i.e., having a college degree (OR 4.18; 95% CI 2.36 to 7.40)—had increased odds of breast cancer screening compared with low SES or no formal education. Women with higher parental SES were almost 10 times more likely to receive breast cancer screening (OR 9.84; 95% CI 1.75 to 55.5) compared with women with low parental SES. In addition, higher SES over the life-course (OR 3.07; 95% CI 1.96 to 4.79) increased breast cancer screening by threefold and increased cervical cancer screening by more than fourfold (OR 4.35; 95% CI 2.94 to 6.45); however, declining life-course SES was associated with reduced breast cancer screening (OR 0.26; 95% CI 0.08 to 0.79) compared to low life-course SES.”

The team determined that breast and cervical cancer screening was more prevalent among participants with higher individual, parental, and life-course SES; in addition, education-based measures were a stronger predictor of screening than employment-based measures. Therefore, Dr. Akinyemiju notes that “improving knowledge of the benefits of cancer screening and integrating cancer screening into routine healthcare practice for low SES women are actionable strategies that may significantly improve screening rates in low-income and middle-income countries.”

UAB co-investigators are graduate student trainee and MPH student Dr. Kemi Ogunsina and graduate research trainee Ms. Swati Sakhuja, both in the department of epidemiology, along with former UAB student Dr. Valentine Ogbodo.

“Life-Course Socioeconomic Status and Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening: Analysis of the WHO’s Study on Global Ageing and Adult Health (SAGE)” was published in November 2016 in the journal BMJ Open.

Journal article: