• colorectal cancer;
  • cancer screening;
  • vulnerable populations;
  • disparities



The goal of the Carolinas Cancer Education and Screening (CARES) Project was to improve colorectal cancer (CRC) screening among low-income women in subsidized housing communities in 11 cities in North and South Carolina who were traditionally underserved by cancer control efforts.


Cross-sectional samples were randomly selected from housing authority lists at 5 timepoints in this nonrandomized community-based intervention study. Face-to-face interviews focused on CRC knowledge, beliefs, barriers to screening, and screening behaviors. The intervention components were based on a previous evidence-based program.


A total of 2098 surveys were completed. Seventy-eight percent of the respondents were African American, 62% were 65+ years, and 4% were married. At baseline, the rate of CRC screening within guidelines was 49.3% and physician recommendation was the strongest predictor (odds ratio [OR] = 21.9) of being within guidelines. There was an increase in positive beliefs about CRC screening (P = .010) and in the intention to complete CRC screening in the next 12 months (P = .053) after the intervention. The odds of being within CRC screening guidelines for women living in a city that had received the intervention were not significantly different from women living in a city that had not received the intervention (P = .496).


Although CRC screening rates were not significantly better after the intervention, there was a positive change in beliefs about screening and intention to be screened. The results suggest that the dissemination of an evidence-based behavioral intervention may require a longer duration to engage hard-to-reach populations and change behaviors. Cancer 2007. © 2007 American Cancer Society.