Test of an intervention to improve knowledge of women with intellectual disabilities about cervical and breast cancer screening

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There is a critical need for evidence-based health education interventions for women with intellectual disabilities (IDs) to promote receipt of preventive health screenings. Previous research has established Women Be Healthy, an 8-week classroom-style intervention designed to teach women with IDs about breast and cervical cancer screenings, as a promising practice. However, additional research is needed to determine how to further improve screening-related knowledge gains. This study aimed to test a modified version of Women Be Healthy, Women Be Healthy 2, and compare its effectiveness in increasing knowledge gains to the original intervention.


Women living in the community across one state in the United States were randomly assigned to a treatment (n = 98), delayed treatment, (n = 35), or no intervention group (n = 65). Women in the treatment group received Women Be Healthy, and women in the delayed treatment group received the modified Women Be Healthy 2. Baseline and post-intervention interviews were conducted to measure knowledge of cervical and breast cancer screening. Knowledge scores were compared across groups.


Among the nine knowledge items measured, one breast knowledge measure and one cervical knowledge measure showed statistically significant group differences; marginally significant differences were observed for two other knowledge measures. After adjusting for covariates, women who received Women Be Healthy 2 had increased knowledge overall compared with the women receiving no intervention.


Women Be Healthy 2 is promising, but additional efforts appear necessary to increase the knowledge women with IDs have about cervical and breast cancer screening.

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