Category: Epidemiology

New epidemiology program Assistant Professor Dr. Tarang Parekh poses outside STAR Campus.
Tarang Parekh, who joined UD’s epidemiology program faculty this fall, plans to launch a pilot study to determine why women with disabilities aren’t getting recommended cervical cancer screenings, so disparities can be addressed.

Addressing disparities

September 27, 2023 Written by Amy Cherry | Ashley Barnas

New research finds women with disabilities less likely to get cervical cancer screenings

Women with disabilities are less likely to receive critical recommended routine cervical cancer screenings using human papillomavirus or HPV tests, as recommended by the American Cancer Society (ACS). Cervical cancer is the most common cancer associated with HPV, accounting for 90% of such cancers, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control.  

A new cross-sectional study by University of Delaware epidemiology program Assistant Professor Tarang Parekh found that nationwide, just over 50% of women with disabilities adhered to ACS guidelines for HPV testing. Delaware fared slightly better than the national average, with nearly 56% of women with disabilities meeting recommended routine cancer screening recommendations set by the ACS. 

“The data shows women with multiple disabilities or cognitive disabilities have an even higher likelihood of not adhering to the guidelines for cancer screening,” Parekh said. “We need to address that.”

The findings were recently published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 

Parekh and colleagues analyzed pooled data from 2018 and 2020 from the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor and Surveillance System, including nearly 190,000 women aged 25 to 64.  

The next question Parekh, who joined UD’s College of Health Sciences this semester, seeks to answer is why cancer screening rates are lower among women with disabilities. 

“We have the data, and we see the disparities; now we need to know what barriers are in place that perpetuate these disparities,” Parekh said. 

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