Cervical cancer screening in ethnocultural groups: case studies in women-centered care

J L Bottorff, L G Balneaves, L Sent, S Grewal, A J Browne
Women & Health 2001, 33 (3): 29-46

INTRODUCTION: The purpose of this study was to identify and describe critical elements of women-centered care within the context of providing cervical screening to three ethnocultural groups in Canada: Asian, South Asian and First Nations.

METHODS: Data for this collective case study included open-ended interviews with purposive samples of women and key informants from each target group. Following thematic analysis, cross-case analysis was completed by comparing and contrasting issues and contextual factors influencing women's and providers' experiences.

RESULTS: Cervical screening services for each group were shaped by attention to ethnocultural values, women's desire for thorough explanations, and the importance of a comfortable setting. While participation rates varied across clinics, women were positive about their experiences in obtaining cervical screening. Some women's expectations that they could address a range of health concerns with female health providers at the clinics were stymied by structural barriers that prevented staff from addressing issues beyond those directly related to cervical screening. Cross-case analysis revealed three key elements of women-centered care: respectful and culturally appropriate interactions between women and health providers, the importance of providing acceptable alternatives for women, and the need for comprehensive health services.

CONCLUSION: While the establishment of Pap test clinics for ethnocultural groups has the potential to enhance participation in cervical screening, changes in health policy and the structure of health services are required for existing programs to fully implement the elements of women-centered health care identified in this study. Other models of providing health care to women in ethnocultural groups, including the use of clinics staffed by nurse practitioners, should be evaluated.

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