Demographic, psychosocial, and behavioral associations with cancer screening among a homeless population

Lovoria B. Williams, Amber McCall, Stephen W. Looney, Thomas Joshua, Martha S. Tingen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: Although cancer incidence and mortality is declining, cancer remains among the leading causes of death in the United States. Research shows that cancer morbidity and mortality can be reduced by early detection. Yet, both cancer risks and screening behavior remain understudied in the homeless population. Methods: Researchers conducted a cross-sectional survey of homeless individuals (n = 201). The analysis describes the demographic, psychosocial, and behavioral associations with cancer screenings and knowledge of the lung cancer screening recommendation. Results: Participants’ mean age was 51.7 years (SD 13.6); the group was largely African American (77.3%) and male (67.9%). Among women, the breast and cervical cancer screening rates were 46.5% and 85.1%. Among men the prostate cancer screening rate was 34.2%. Among all participants, the colon cancer screening rate was 44%. Cancer risk behaviors were high. Lung cancer screening knowledge was low (23.0%). Some cancer screening behaviors were associated with age, income, health status, obesity, tobacco use, and physical activity. Discussion: Despite higher cancer risk behaviors, knowledge and general participation rates for cancer screenings were below national benchmarks. Conclusion: To improve cancer survival among disparate populations, sustained community outreach is necessary to increase awareness of screening recommendations, identify high-risk individuals, and navigate them to resources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-290
Number of pages10
JournalPublic Health Nursing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


  • community assessment
  • health disparities
  • homeless persons
  • lung cancer
  • risk behaviors
  • screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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