HealthDay News — According to a study published in Psychiatric Services, cervical cancer screening rates are much lower among women with severe mental illness than among other women.

Researchers reviewed 2010 to 2011 California Medicaid data for the study. Of the women with severe mental illness, 42% had some form of schizophrenia. 

Almost a third of the women had major depression. Nearly one in five had bipolar disorder, and the rest had anxiety or another disorder.

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The researchers found that 20.2% of women with severe mental illness were screened for cervical cancer. But 42.3% of women in the general population received screening. The researchers found a number of factors significantly linked to cervical cancer screening rates.

These included age, race or ethnicity, specific mental health diagnosis, and use of primary care services, not just mental health services. Drug and alcohol use was not a factor. 

Among women with severe mental illness, those aged 18 to 27 were 30% less likely than those aged 28 to 47 to be screened for cervical cancer. This finding mirrors age-difference rates in the general population, the researchers said.

“The results of this very large study indicate that we need to better prioritize cervical cancer screening for these high-risk women with severe mental illnesses,” senior author Christina Mangurian, MD, an associate professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, said in a university news release.


James M, et al. “Rates Of Cervical Cancer Screening Among Women With Severe Mental Illness In The Public Health System.” Psychiatric Services. 2017. doi: 10.1176/ [Epub ahead of print]

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