Exploring access to cancer control services for Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities in Southern California.
During the last 25 years, numerous studies have been conducted to promote breast cancer and cervical cancer screening. Most of these studies focused on individual-level factors predicting screening, but we are unaware of any that directly examined community and ecological influences. The goal of this project, Promoting Access to Health for Pacific Islander and Southeast Asian Women (PATH for Women), was to increase community capacity for breast and cervical cancer screening and follow up in Los Angeles and Orange counties. We focused on Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander women because, although they have the lowest rates for cancer, compared to all other ethnic groups, relatively few programs have specifically targeted Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women to promote and sustain screening practices. The PATH for Women project involved a partnership between 5 community-based organizations and 2 universities, and included 7 Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities: Cambodians, Chamorros, Laotians, Thais, Tongans, Samoans, and Vietnamese. In this paper, we share our experiences in developing a Geographic Information System (GIS)-mapping evaluation component that was used to explore availability and accessibility to culturally responsive breast and cervical cancer screening services for Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander women in all 7 communities. We describe the methods used to develop the maps, and present the preliminary findings that demonstrate significant geographic and language barriers to accessing healthcare providers, services for breast and cervical cancer screening, and follow up, in each of the communities. Finally, we discuss implications for programs designed to promote breast and cervical screening and policy education.