Objective: This study aimed to assess rates of Papanicolaou (Pap) testing and associations between religion-related factors and these rates among a racially and ethnically diverse sample of American Muslim women.
Materials and Methods: A community-based participatory research design was used in partnering with the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago to recruit Muslim women attending mosque and community events. These participants self-administered surveys incorporating measures of fatalism, religiosity, perceived discrimination, Islamic modesty, and a marker of Pap test use.
Results: A total of 254 survey respondents were collected with nearly equal numbers of Arabs, South Asians, and African American respondents. Of these respondents, 84% had obtained a Pap test in their lifetime, with individuals who interpret disease as a manifestation of God’s punishment having a lower odds of having had Pap testing after controlling for sociodemographic factors (odds ratio [OR] = 0.87, 95% CI = 0.77–1.0). In multivariate models, living in the United States for more than 20 years (OR = 4.7, 95% CI = 1.4–16) and having a primary care physician (OR = 7.7, 95% CI = 2.5–23.4) were positive predictors of having had a Pap test. Ethnicity, fatalistic beliefs, perceived discrimination, and modesty levels were not significantly associated with Pap testing rates.
Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the first study to assess Pap testing behaviors among a diverse sample of American Muslim women and to observe that negative religious coping (e.g., viewing health problems as a punishment from God) is associated with a lower odds of obtaining a Pap test. The relationship between religious coping and cancer screening behaviors deserves further study so that religious values can be appropriately addressed through cancer screening programs.