Women with criminal justice histories persist as one of the groups most affected by cervical cancer, with 4- 5 times the rates of cancer compared to other women. Our research team has spent the last 8 years investigating the factors that account for this disparity. We have found that abnormal Pap tests are high, with sexual health risk, trauma, women's life circumstances, and low cervical health literacy as facilitators of risk and barriers to care. But questions remain about justice-involved women's screening trajectories over time given complex cervical screening recommendations and the difficulty of interfacing with health systems and navigating complex health insurance environments. Thus, there is insufficient information available to inform interventions that address justice-involved women's cervical cancer prevention needs in the community. The specific objective of this study is to develop a better understanding of the natural history of cervical cancer risk and prevention behaviors among community-based justice-involved women. The long-term goal of this study is to identify strategies for where and how to intervene to change the factors and environments that structure women's cervical health risk. We have a unique opportunity to conduct a natural history study of cervical health risk and screening among community-based justice-involved women in three geographically and demographically diverse cities. We plan to leverage three existing samples of community-based, justice-involved women ? in Kansas City, MO, Birmingham, AL, and Oakland, CA ? to become one of the first long-term cancer prevention studies of high-risk women across cities in the U.S. By studying three geographically and demographically diverse cities, we can draw conclusions about factors at each level of inquiry across study sites, accounting for variation in cities and increasing our ability to generalize findings. By leveraging samples generated by our ongoing projects in each city, we also offer a cost-effective and feasible way to engage in long-term follow-up of hard to reach women, with whom we've already established trust and rapport. In our first aim, we use the Behavioral Model for Vulnerable Populations (BMVP) to explain the natural history of cervical health risk behaviors, screening, and treatment among community-based justice-involved women (N~600) over a 5-year period in three cities. In the second aim, we use a mixed methods approach to unpack the ways in which significant domains of the BMVP operate in the daily lives of a subsample of women (N~60) recruited from the larger sample. Public health significance of this study centers on two products: 1) Development of a multi-level conceptual framework that explains the environment in which justice-involved women engage in cervical cancer prevention. 2) Creation of intervention models that address ?upstream? determinants of health in clinical and service settings, while addressing justice-involved women's unique needs.
This study is significant because it capitalizes on a rare opportunity to study cervical cancer risk and prevention behaviors among community-based justice-involved women in three distinct cities, factoring in sociodemographic differences of women, unique policy, and service environments, which will inform subsequent intervention design, implementation, and impact in multiple contexts, increasing generalizability and reach of interventions to justice-involved women in U.S. cities. The natural history design will allow us to trace women's real-life cervical health trajectories, as women navigate the complex recommendations for cancer prevention in the tumultuous reality of their post-incarceration lives, providing a detailed picture of where women fail and where systems fail women when it comes to cervical cancer prevention.