Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Joann T. Richardson, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Resa Jones, MPH, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Lisa Abrams, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Paul Gerber, Ph.D.


This dissertation examines sociodemographic determinants and preventive health behaviors among women 40-64 years of age who participated in the Virginia Department of Health’s Every Woman’s Life breast cancer screening program. Utilizing secondary data, this research sought to explore patterns of breast cancer incidence, mammography screening utilization and sources of health information among low-income women.

The Virginia Department of Health provided a large sample size (N=34,942) on which to perform binary logistic regression analyses. Sociodemographic determinants and preventive health behaviors were analyzed as potential influencing factors in the diagnosis of breast cancer, the stage at the time of diagnosis and source of health information. Additionally, frequencies across all variables were explored and compared to state and national statistics, where appropriate.

In this study, cancer and preventive health disparities reported in the literature persist within this sample of low income women. The binary regression analyses demonstrated that there are marginally worse outcomes for each level of decreasing income. Those with the most “wealth” were less likely to be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and were more likely to obtain health information from a health provider. Additionally, it was determined that those without a prior mammogram were more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer and the cancer was more likely to be invasive.

The aims of the Every Woman’s Life program align with Affordable Care Act (2010) to strengthen health care and eliminate cancer disparities. Highlighting program characteristics and presenting these analyses allows policymakers, program officials and practitioners an opportunity to tailor health promotion activities while considering all tiers of influence.


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Date of Submission