Publication Abstract

Authors: Meissner HI, Breen N, Coyne C, Legler JM, Green DT, Edwards BK

Title: Breast and cervical cancer screening interventions: an assessment of the literature.

Journal: Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 7(10):951-61

Date: 1998 Oct

Abstract: An extensive body of intervention research to promote breast and cervical cancer screening has accumulated over the last three decades, but its coverage and comprehensiveness have not been assessed. We evaluated published reports of these interventions and propose a framework of critical elements for authors and researchers to use when contributing to this literature. We identified all articles describing breast and cervical cancer screening interventions published between January 1960 and May 1997 in the United States and abstracted specified critical elements in the broad areas of: (a) needs assessment; (b) intervention study design; and (c) analysis methods and study outcomes from each article using a template developed for that purpose. Fifty-eight studies met our criteria for inclusion. Thirty-eight focused exclusively on breast cancer screening, 7 promoted cervical cancer screening, and 13 were designed to promote screening for both cancers. The amount of detail reported varied among the 58 studies. All studies reported the outcome measures used to assess the effectiveness of the intervention, yet only 40% of the studies reported the investigators' original hypotheses or research questions. Needs assessment data were reported in 84% of the studies. Data sources ranged from national surveys to local intervention baseline surveys. Population characteristics reported also varied, with most studies reporting age and race of the study population (78 and 71%, respectively), and fewer studies reporting income and education (53 and 38%, respectively). As the field of behavioral intervention research progressed, we found that more recent studies included and reported many of the parameters we had identified as critical. If this trend continues, it will enhance the reproducibility of studies, enable comparisons between interventions, and provide a reference point for measuring progress in this area. To facilitate this trend toward uniform reporting, we propose an evaluative framework of critical elements for authors to use when developing and reporting their research. The comprehensive assessment of literature that this article provides should be useful background to investigators planning and reporting cancer control interventions, to funding agencies choosing and guiding quality research, and to publishers to help them enhance the quality and utility of their publications.