Background Native Americans are disproportionately affected by cancer morbidity and mortality. This study examined intention to receive cancer screening in a large sample of Native Americans from the Northern Plains, a region with high cancer mortality rates.
Methods A survey was administered orally to 975 individuals in 2004–2006 from three reservations and among the urban Native American community in the service region of the Rapid City Regional Hospital. Data analysis was conducted in 2009.
Results About 63% of the sample planned to receive cancer screening. In multivariate analyses, individuals who planned to receive cancer screening were women, responsible for four or more people, received physical examinations at least yearly and had received prior cancer screening. They also were more likely to hold the belief that most people would go through cancer treatment even though these treatments can be emotionally or physically uncomfortable. About 90% of those who did not plan to receive cancer screening would be more likely to intend to receive cancer screening if additional resources were available.
Conclusions In an area of high cancer morbidity and mortality, over one-third of screening eligible individuals did not plan to receive cancer screening. Future research should evaluate the potential for improving cancer screening rates through interventions that seek to facilitate increased knowledge about cancer screening and access to cancer screening services in the community.