Associations Between Religion-Related Factors and Cervical Cancer Screening Among Muslims in Greater Chicago

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ObjectiveThis study aimed to assess rates of Papanicolaou (Pap) testing and associations between religion-related factors and these rates among a racially and ethnically diverse sample of American Muslim women.Materials and MethodsA community-based participatory research design was used in partnering with the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago to recruit Muslim women attending mosque and community events. These participants self-administered surveys incorporating measures of fatalism, religiosity, perceived discrimination, Islamic modesty, and a marker of Pap test use.ResultsA total of 254 survey respondents were collected with nearly equal numbers of Arabs, South Asians, and African American respondents. Of these respondents, 84% had obtained a Pap test in their lifetime, with individuals who interpret disease as a manifestation of God’s punishment having a lower odds of having had Pap testing after controlling for sociodemographic factors (odds ratio [OR] = 0.87, 95% CI = 0.77–1.0). In multivariate models, living in the United States for more than 20 years (OR = 4.7, 95% CI = 1.4–16) and having a primary care physician (OR = 7.7, 95% CI = 2.5–23.4) were positive predictors of having had a Pap test. Ethnicity, fatalistic beliefs, perceived discrimination, and modesty levels were not significantly associated with Pap testing rates.ConclusionsTo our knowledge, this is the first study to assess Pap testing behaviors among a diverse sample of American Muslim women and to observe that negative religious coping (e.g., viewing health problems as a punishment from God) is associated with a lower odds of obtaining a Pap test. The relationship between religious coping and cancer screening behaviors deserves further study so that religious values can be appropriately addressed through cancer screening programs.

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