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Keywords:

  • cancer;
  • health disparities;
  • Medicare;
  • rural living;
  • utilization of health services

Abstract

Purpose: We examined the rural-urban disparity of screening for breast cancer and colorectal cancer (CRC) among the elder Medicare beneficiaries and assessed rurality's independent impact on receipt of screening.

Methods: Using 2005 Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey, we applied weighted logistic regression to estimate the overall rural-urban disparity and rurality's independent impact on cancer screening, controlling for patient, and area factors.

Results: From urban, large rural, small rural, and isolated rural areas, the rates for mammogram last year were 53%, 52%, 45%, and 44%, respectively. They were 56%, 50%, 48%, and 43% for CRC screening, respectively. After controlling for patient and area level characteristics, rurality is significantly associated with CRC screening, but not mammogram.

Conclusions: We found rural-urban disparities for both mammogram and CRC screenings. Patient and area factors totally eliminated the rural-urban disparity for mammogram but not CRC screening. Health promotions to improve cancer screening should focus more on small and isolated rural areas.