Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Eric G. Benotsch

Second Advisor

Paul B. Perrin

Third Advisor

Kristina B. Hood

Fourth Advisor

Bethany M. Coston

Fifth Advisor

Andrew J. Barnes


Sexual minority women (SMW) demonstrate lower rates of cervical cancer screening than heterosexual women. This is concerning as lesbian and bisexual women tend to engage in higher rates of substance-related cancer risk behaviors, unprotected sex, and tend to have higher body mass indices, all of which are risk factors for cancer development. Another major risk factor, screening avoidance, places SMW at increased risk for the development of high grade cervical lesions in the absence of early detection practices, which is likely to impact overall cervical cancer morbidity in this population. The aim of the present study was to utilize the Health Equity Promotion Model in order to investigate the interplay of medical heterosexism, social and community, behavioral, biological, and social identity/position factors on cervical cancer screening rates in a sample of SMW from a large metro area in the southeastern United States. 145 women who identify as sexual minorities were recruited from local LGBT-friendly venues, events, community organizations, email LISTSERVs, and related social media accounts and were asked to complete a fifteen-minute survey.

A series of bivariate correlation, t-test, and multivariate regression analyses were run. Findings from mediation analyses demonstrated that health communication factors mediated the relationship between perceived medical heterosexism and cervical cancer screening outcomes. Further, after accounting for demographic factors, greater provider communication quality, provider trust, eHealth literacy, and ever having an HIV test significantly and differentially predicted cervical cancer screening outcomes in the multivariate models (ps < .05). Findings suggest that health communication factors play an important role in facilitating cervical cancer screenings for SMW, and provider training interventions and policy that focus on reducing medical heterosexism may aid in improving patient-provider relationships in this population.


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