Background: Understanding Black women’s Papanicolaou (Pap) screening experiences can inform efforts to reduce cancer disparities. This study examined experiences among both US-born US Black women and Sub-Saharan African immigrant women. Method: Using a convergent parallel mixed methods design, Black women born in the USA and in Sub-Saharan Africa age 21–65 years were recruited to participate in focus groups and complete a 25-item survey about patient-centered communication and perceived racial discrimination. Qualitative and quantitative data were integrated to provide a fuller understanding of results. Results: Of the 37 participants, 14 were US-born and 23 were Sub-Saharan African-born Black women. The mean age was 40.0 ± 11.0, and 83.8% had received at least one Pap test. Five themes regarding factors that impact screening uptake emerged from the focus groups: (1) positive and negative experiences with providers; (2) provider communication and interaction; (3) individual barriers to screening uptake, (4) implicit bias, discrimination, and stereotypical views among providers, and (5) language barrier. Survey and focus group findings diverged on several points. While focus group themes captured both positive and negative experiences with provider communication, survey results indicated that most of both US-born and Sub-Saharan African-born women experienced positive patient-centered communication with health care providers. Additionally, during focus group sessions many participants described experiences of discrimination in health care settings, but less than a third reported this in the survey. Conclusion: Black women’s health care experiences affect Pap screening uptake. Poor communication and perceived discrimination during health care encounters highlight areas for needed service improvement to reduce cervical cancer disparities.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of racial and ethnic health disparities
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, W. Montague Cobb-NMA Health Institute.


  • African American women
  • Black women
  • Pap screening
  • Patient-centered communication
  • Perceived racial discrimination
  • Sub-Saharan African immigrant women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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