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Background: Despite the availability of relatively simple and inexpensive screening tools, minority women are more often diagnosed at a late stage of breast cancer, in part due to delays in follow-up of abnormal screening result. One of the key factors for timely follow-up of abnormal mammogram may be neighborhood characteristics. Patient Navigation (PN) programs aim to diminish barriers, but its differential effects by neighborhood have not been fully examined. The current study examine the effect of types of neighborhoods on time to follow-up of abnormal mammogram, and the differential effects of PN by neighborhood characteristics.
Methods: We examined data from a total of 1,696 randomized patients from a randomized controlled trial, “the Patient Navigation in Medically Underserved Areas” study that explored the effect of navigation on breast health outcomes. We categorized participants’ neighborhoods into three categories and compared the effect of navigation between these neighborhood types.
Results: Navigated women in mixed race neighborhoods had a shorter time to follow-up compared with non-navigated women in the neighborhoods. Black women living in mixed neighborhoods had a significant longer time to follow-up of abnormal mammogram, compared with black women living in middle class black neighborhoods.
Conclusion: Patient navigation interventions improve timely follow-up of abnormal mammogram. Patient navigation may be particularly beneficial for minority women who reside in racially heterogeneous neighborhoods which may be less likely to have access to affordable health clinics and social services. Health policies concerning breast cancer early detection for minority women need to pay further attention to those who might potentially be excluded from health services due to the characteristics of neighborhoods. Socioeconomic conditions of neighborhood may affect individual health through multiple interlinked mechanisms. Neighborhood characteristics, such as poverty, segregation, access to resources, and social cohesion, cannot be fully understood with simplistic measures of neighborhood disadvantage.
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