A study looking at Texas Medicare beneficiaries shows those who live in rural areas are less likely to undergo a mammogram than urban counterparts. The full results are published in the journal of Geriatric Nursing. [1]

Researchers from the University of Texas at Arlington said that previous studies have found disparities for breast cancer screening when looking at factors such as race and age. However, they add there is limited data on how these factors interact with not only each other, but also with the location in which a patient lives.  

The research team led by Zhaoli Liu, PhD, examined Texas-based Medicare data on 114,939 older female Medicare beneficiaries (between the ages of 65 and 74) for their retrospective analysis. When digging into the data, they found women who lived in rural areas were less likely to receive screenings than those on Medicare in urban areas – and when the data was further broken down, the results showed race also impacted the likelihood of a patient seeking and receiving a mammogram. 

Liu and his team found white women in rural areas were more likely than other races to be screened for breast cancer. However, compared to their urban counterparts, white women in rural Texas were screened 4% less often. Hispanic women in urban areas were 33% less likely to receive a mammogram, while non-Hispanic Black women in rural areas were about 22% less likely to receive a routine screening than those in urban areas. 

Liu and his colleagues wrote that the findings “highlight the importance of addressing rural racial disparities in mammography utilization,” emphasizing that outreach targeted at older women is likely lacking despite its importance.