‘Women Be Healthy 2’ program improves knowledge of cervical and breast cancer screening

By Susan Parish, PhD, MSW
The Lurie Institute for Disability Policy, Brandeis University

There is a critical need for evidence-based health education interventions for women with intellectual disabilities (ID) to promote receipt of preventive health screenings. Previous research has established Women Be Healthy, an 8-week classroom-style intervention designed to teach women with ID about breast and cervical cancer screenings, as a promising practice. However, additional research is needed to determine how to further improve screening-related knowledge gains.

What did you do in your research?
This study aimed to test a modified version of Women Be Healthy, Women Be Healthy 2, and compare its effectiveness in increasing knowledge gains to the original intervention. Ninety eight (98) women were randomly assigned to receive the Women Be Healthy training, 35 received the modified Women Be Healthy 2 training, and 65 received no training. The program lasted 8 weeks. Before and after program interviews were conducted to measure knowledge of cervical and breast cancer screening.

What did you find out?
Results showed no significant gains in breast or cervical knowledge for women who participated in Women Be Healthy over the group who did not receive training. However, the revised program, Women Be Healthy 2, showed modest gains including increased gains in overall knowledge. Women who received Women Be Healthy 2 had increased knowledge overall compared with the women receiving no intervention.

What are the take-home messages?
Women Be Healthy 2 is promising, but additional efforts appear necessary to increase the knowledge women with ID have about cervical and breast cancer screening.

To learn more about these findings contact Susan Parish or visit Project Webiste.

Full Journal Article
Swaine, J. G., Parish, S. L., Luken, K., Son, E. and Dickens, P. (2014). Test of an intervention to improve knowledge of women with intellectual disabilities about cervical and breast cancer screening. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 58(7), 651–663.