Women's attitudes to and awareness of smear testing and cervical cancer

C K Yu, J Rymer
British Journal of Family Planning 1998, 23 (4): 127-33
A cross sectional survey consisting of a questionnaire of 650 randomly selected women aged 15 to 78 years was performed to gain an insight into women's attitudes to and awareness of smear testing and cervical cancer. Their general health and screening history were noted along with their knowledge of the smear test and cervical cancer. Of the respondents, 80.5 per cent had had at least one smear test and 71.5 per cent of these women have regular smears. The majority of the women (66.9 per cent) thought the test 'no problem' and those who found the test 'embarrassing, painful or troublesome' were of a younger age group. Overall, 76.2 per cent perceived the disease to be a common one. 32.6 per cent of the respondents thought the age group 40s to 50s to be most affected by cervical cancer. On the whole, women appeared to be well informed of the link between the number of sexual partners and cervical cancer as well as recognising smoking to be a contributing factor. A substantial proportion (91.7 per cent) of women were of the attitude that cancer can be treated if detected early enough. The perceived barrier such as embarrassment and discomfort played a part in women's decision in returning for a regular smear. By influencing the awareness and perceptions through public health education as well as creating an appropriate environment for the test, this can indeed help to reduce personal perceived barriers and increase the uptake of smear testing.

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