Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Question of Sustainable Screening

This month my first first-author publication was published in the Journal of Women's Health! I am extremely excited as it was the product of a two-year effort and became a really insightful article with the help of some really intelligent colleagues and collaborators. While I want to share with you highlights from the article, I'd also like to share some reflections on what I learned through the process.
The article examined what factors predict mammography re-screening (in the past 2 years) among Latinas living in California. This paper began as a study of all Latinas, but by the final iteration it focused on Latinas had at least one mammogram. Here are some of the major findings and considerations:
  • Multiple factors influence mammography screening; those screened were older (60+ years), more educated, had health insurance, and reported having a 'usual source of care'.
  • The most common reasons for not having a recent mammogram were cost, inconvenience, and lack of knowledge.
  • Latinas who interviewed in Spanish were more likely to have been recently screened than those who interviewed in English (suggesting language might not be such a barrier to preventive health care use once access is attained).
  • Increasing access to mammography screenings (both by reducing the cost and increasing the convenience) will likely improve re-screening among Latinas.
This was an incredible learning experience; one that I am so thankful to have had prior to graduate school and dissertation defenses. Nonetheless, there are a few key 'lessons learned' that I'd like to share. I hope these will serve as a reminder for myself and provide some comfort to others who will likely endure the same challenges and frustrations.
  1. Listen. Embrace opportunities to invite in others to be a part of the publication process. I was so grateful to connect with collaborators at the CA Department of Public Health who were running mammography screening programs. It gave us a lot more confidence in our understanding of the problem and the interpretation of our data. 
  2. Persist. Publishing this article was  a roller coaster ride. At first you think that your idea is the greatest one yet. Then, either through reviewers' comments or constructive criticism, you begin to doubt. It takes courage to work through the tough issues that need to be dealt with to improve the paper.
  3. Revise! As focused as I thought the paper was when we began, there was way too much in there for a 2500 word article. Revisions focused the paper and resulted from thoughtful critique from reviewers and coauthors.
  4. Relax. Once you submit that article there is no point in checking the website every day to see if the status of the article has changed (I never did that...). Enjoy the waiting because once you get the manuscript back your next few weeks are shot.
I am looking forward to working on some more publications, but I'm excited to have this blog so I can discuss public health issues that interest me any time. 
If you could publish in any area -- magazine, newspaper, journal -- what would you write about?


Wes said...

Congratulations, Katelyn! Your first first-author publication is a huge milestone!

Susan said...

Katelyn, I just read this! This is amazing! congratulations! I'm sure it's just the beginning... you'll have so many published articles in the future. But it's wonderful! suitable for framing? :)