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WMJ Vol. 117 No. 2: Original Research

Increasing Mammography Uptake Through Academic-Community Partnerships Targeting Immigrant and Refugee Communities in Milwaukee

Sailaja Kamaraju, MD, MS; Melissa DeNomie, MS; Alexis Visotcky, MS; Anjishnu Banerjee, PhD; Kate Krause, BS; Emmanuel Tavares, BA; Amrita Rao, BS; Elaine Drew, PhD; Joan Neuner, MD, MPH; Melinda Stolley, PhD


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Introduction: Milwaukee, a city characterized by high rates of racial segregation and a growing immigrant population, has large race-based breast cancer survival disparities. To address these disparities, breast health education workshops were offered through a community-academic partnership (CAP) to women from various ethnic backgrounds. This paper explores attendance, satisfaction, and rates of screening mammography among workshop attendees.

Methods: Partnerships were formed with community-based organizations, a mobile mammography unit, and the Wisconsin Well Woman Program, a state-supported program providing free mammograms. Multilingual staff provided monthly breast health education workshops at community settings and coordinated transportation. Participants completed surveys that included demographics, prior screening history, barriers to screening, and program evaluation. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize and analyze data.

Results: Over a 24-month period, 493 women—most of whom sought services at partnering organizations that serve primarily immigrants, refugees, and racial minorities—attended breast health workshops, with 374 participants completing surveys (mean age = 45 years). A total of 360 were ≥ 40 years old. Among these women, 188 (113 insured [60%], 75 uninsured [40%]) reported no prior mammogram in the past 2 to 5 years. After attending the workshop, mammogram uptake was 100% among the insured and 80% among the uninsured. Satisfaction with the workshops was high; 73% of attendees rated them highly informative.

Conclusions: Our CAP offered culturally tailored breast health education and access to screening via a mobile unit that was well attended, highly rated, and increased screening mammography.

Author Affiliations: Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology and Oncology, Milwaukee, Wis (Kamaraju); MCW, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Milwaukee, Wis (DeNomie); MCW, Department of Biostatistics, Milwaukee, Wis (Visotcky, Banerjee); MCW, Milwaukee, Wis (Krause, Tavares, Rao, Neuner); University of Alaska Fairbanks, Division of Anthropology, Fairbanks, Alaska (Drew); MCW, Department of Medicine, Clinical Cancer Center, Milwaukee, Wis (Stolley).

Corresponding Author: Sailaja Kamaraju, MD, MS, Medical College of Wisconsin, Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology and Oncology, 9200 W Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53226; phone 414.805.4600; fax 414.805.4606; email skamaraju@mcw.edu.