Cancer Screening in Behavioral Health Care Programs

Lois Rockson, Margaret Swarbrick, Carlos Pratt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


OBJECTIVE: Adults with serious mental illnesses have a lower life expectancy attributable to many factors including metabolic disorders and cancer. Access to cancer screening has been shown to decrease morbidity and increase chances of survival. This study examined access to cancer screening services among individuals with serious mental illnesses served by a community behavioral health care agency partial hospitalization program at four locations. METHOD: A self-administered paper-and-pencil survey was provided to adults attending partial hospitalization programs. The survey consisted of open- and closed-ended questions about utilization, access to, and barriers to cervical, breast, and colorectal cancer screenings. RESULTS: Surveys were completed by 136 individuals. Participant screening rates were above national rates for cervical and breast cancer but lower for colorectal cancer. The main cited barrier to receiving the screening tests was lack of physician recommendations. CONCLUSIONS: Psychiatric nurses are ideally suited to communicate with this population and other behavioral health care professions about the importance of these screenings. Communication should also advocate for improved education and increased support for cancer screenings to address this health care disparity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Phychiatric Mental Health


  • barriers
  • cancer screening
  • partial hospitalization
  • serious mental illness

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