Rural/Urban Variations in Cancer Screening During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Research center:
Lead researcher:
Project funded:
September 2022
Anticipated completion date:
May 2024

The existing literature offers no information about the extent to which rural compared to urban adults have delayed cancer preventive screenings during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is predicted to contribute to higher cancer mortality rates.

Using nationally representative data from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS), we will examine how the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the receipt of recommended screenings for the detection of common cancers. The HINTS includes questions about the receipt of cervical, breast, and colorectal cancer screenings that we will use to determine if individuals received screenings in accordance with U.S. Preventive Services Guidelines. We will compare changes in the rates of the receipt of these cancer preventive services across time (2019, 2020, and 2021) among adults residing in metropolitan (urban) and non-metropolitan (rural) counties.

The study findings will inform policymakers about the potential widening of rural/urban disparities in the receipt of cancer preventive services during the pandemic and the potential need to specifically target prevention services toward rural residents to avoid an uptick in cancer incidence and mortality.