Background: Breast cancer and cervical cancer, the most common forms of cancer in women worldwide, are on a fast and steady rise. Cancer screening tests are an important tool to combat cancer-related morbidity and mortality. Considering the importance of health literacy in promoting community health, this study aimed to investigate the relationship between health literacy and the history of screening behaviors of common cancers in women referred to Bushehr healthcare centers in 2019.
Methods: This cross-sectional study was carried out on 380 women referred to urban health centers in Bushehr in 2019. Data were collected by using a questionnaire consisting of three parts: demographic characteristics, breast and cervical cancer screening behavior, and health literacy (HELIA) questionnaire. Data were analyzed via SPSS 21 software using the Chi-square test, an independent t-test, and descriptive statistical methods. Furthermore, P<0.05 was considered statistically significant.
Results: The mean age of the subjects was 34.88±9.15 years. Moreover, 3.2% of subjects had inadequate health literacy, 13.9% had health literacy at a border level, and 82.9% had sufficient health literacy. In this study, 46.8% and 88.2% of the women did not undergo Pap tests and mammography, respectively, and 73.9% were never referred to the health centers for clinical examination of breasts. In addition, health literacy had a significant relationship with monthly breast examination and undergoing Pap smear (P<0.001), but health literacy had no significant relationship with undergoing mammography and clinical breast examination (P>0.05).
Conclusion: The results of this study indicated that women with higher levels of health literacy are more likely to get in the habit of doing monthly breast self-examination and undergoing the Pap test. Thus, it is suggested that this result be considered in prevention programs (primary and secondary) to increase women’s health.