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1.  Influences on uptake of reproductive health services in Nsangi community of Uganda and their implications for cervical cancer screening 
Cervical cancer is the most common female cancer in Uganda. Over 80% of women diagnosed or referred with cervical cancer in Mulago national referral and teaching hospital have advanced disease. Plans are underway for systematic screening programmes based on visual inspection, as Pap smear screening is not feasible for this low resource country. Effectiveness of population screening programmes requires high uptake and for cervical cancer, minimal loss to follow up. Uganda has poor indicators of reproductive health (RH) services uptake; 10% postnatal care attendance, 23% contraceptive prevalence, and 38% skilled attendance at delivery. For antenatal attendance, attendance to one visit is 90%, but less than 50% for completion of care, i.e. three or more visits.
We conducted a qualitative study using eight focus group discussions with a total of 82 participants (16 men, 46 women and 20 health workers). We aimed to better understand factors that influence usage of available reproductive health care services and how they would relate to cervical cancer screening, as well as identify feasible interventions to improve cervical cancer screening uptake.
Barriers identified after framework analysis included ignorance about cervical cancer, cultural constructs/beliefs about the illness, economic factors, domestic gender power relations, alternative authoritative sources of reproductive health knowledge, and unfriendly health care services. We discuss how these findings may inform future planned screening programmes in the Ugandan context.
Knowledge about cervical cancer among Ugandan women is very low. For an effective cervical cancer-screening programme, awareness about cervical cancer needs to be increased. Health planners need to note the power of the various authoritative sources of reproductive health knowledge such as paternal aunts (Sengas) and involve them in the awareness campaign. Cultural and economic issues dictate the perceived reluctance by men to participate in women's reproductive health issues; men in this community are, however, potential willing partners if appropriately informed. Health planners should address the loss of confidence in current health care units, as well as consider use of other cervical cancer screening delivery systems such as mobile clinics/camps.
PMCID: PMC1936416  PMID: 17594474
2.  Brief Report: Knowledge, attitudes, practices and perceived risk of cervical cancer among Kenyan women 
Eastern Africa has the highest incidence and mortality rates from cervical cancer worldwide. It is important to describe the differences among women and their perceived risk of cervical cancer in order to determine target groups to increase cervical cancer screening.
In this cross-sectional study we surveyed women seeking reproductive health services in Kisumu, Kenya to assess their perceived risk of cervical cancer and risk factors influencing cervical cancer screening uptake. Chi-square statistics and t-tests were used to determine significant factors, which were incorporated into a logistic model to determine factors independently associated with cervical cancer risk perception.
While 91% of the surveyed women had heard of cancer, only 29% of the 388 surveyed women had previously heard of cervical cancer. The majority had received their information from healthcare workers. Few women (6%) had ever been screened for cervical cancer and cited barriers such as fear, time, and lacking knowledge about cervical cancer. Nearly all previously screened women (22/24, 92%) believed that cervical cancer was curable if detected early, and that screening should be conducted annually (86%). Most women (254/388, 65%) felt they were at risk for cervical cancer. Women with perceived risk of cervical cancer were older (OR=1.06, 95% CI 1.02, 1.10), reported a history of marriage (OR=2.08, CI 1.00, 4.30), were less likely to feel adequately informed about cervical cancer by healthcare providers (OR= 0.76, CI 0.18, 0.83) and more likely to intend to have cervical cancer screening in the future (OR= 10.59, CI 3.96, 28.30). Only 5% of women reported that they would not be willing to undergo screening, regardless of cost.
Cervical cancer is a major health burden for women in sub-Saharan Africa, yet only one-third of women had ever heard of cervical cancer in Kisumu, Kenya. Understanding factors associated with women’s perceived risk of cervical cancer could guide future educational and clinical interventions to increase cervical cancer screening.
PMCID: PMC3662490  PMID: 23694983
Screening; Barriers; Cervical Cancer; Africa
3.  Mind the gaps: a qualitative study of perceptions of healthcare professionals on challenges and proposed remedies for cervical cancer help-seeking in post conflict northern Uganda 
BMC Family Practice  2013;14:193.
There are limited data on perceptions of health professionals on challenges faced by cervical cancer patients seeking healthcare in the developing countries. We explored the views of operational level health professionals on perceived barriers to cervical screening and early help–seeking for symptomatic cervical cancer and the proposed remedies to the challenges.
Fifteen key informant interviews were held with health professionals including medical directors, gynecologists, medical officers, nurses and midwives in the gynecology and obstetrics departments of two hospitals in northern Uganda during August 2012 to April 2013. We used content analysis techniques to analyze the data.
Health professionals’ perceived barriers to cervical cancer care included: (i) patients and community related barriers e.g. lack of awareness on cervical cancer and available services, discomfort with exposure of women’s genitals and perceived pain during pelvic examinations, and men’s lack of emotional support to women (ii) individual healthcare professional’s challenges e.g. inadequate knowledge and skills about cervical cancer management; (iii) health facility related barriers e.g. long distances and lack of transport to cervical cancer screening and care centers, few gynecologists and lack of pathologists, delayed histology results, lack of established palliative care services and inadequate pain control; and (iv) health policy challenges e.g. lack of specialized cancer treatment services, and lack of vaccination for human papilloma virus. Other challenges included increased number of cervical cancer patients and late stage of cervical cancer at presentations.
Operational level healthcare professionals in northern Uganda reported several practical challenges facing cervical cancer care that influence their decisions, management goals and practices. The challenges and proposed remedies can inform targeted interventions for early detection, management, and control of cervical cancer in Uganda.
PMCID: PMC3915559  PMID: 24341601
Barriers to care; Cervical cancer; Northern Uganda; Healthcare professionals
4.  Health systems challenges in cervical cancer prevention program in Malawi 
Global Health Action  2015;8:10.3402/gha.v8.26282.
Cervical cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death among women in sub-Saharan Africa. In Malawi, very few women have undergone screening and the incidence of cervical cancer is on the increase as is the case in most developing countries. We aimed at exploring and documenting health system gaps responsible for the poor performance of the cervical cancer prevention program in Malawi.
The study was carried out in 14 randomly selected districts of the 29 districts of Malawi. All cervical cancer service providers in these districts were invited to participate. Two semi-structured questionnaires were used, one for the district cervical cancer coordinators and the other for the service providers. The themes of both questionnaires were based on World Health Organization (WHO) health system frameworks. A checklist was also developed to audit medical supplies and equipment in the cervical cancer screening facilities. The two questionnaires together with the medical supplies and equipment checklist were piloted in Chikwawa district before being used as data collection tools in the study. Quantitative data were analyzed using STATA and qualitative in NVIVO.
Forty-one service providers from 21 health facilities and 9 district coordinators participated in the study. Our findings show numerous health system challenges mainly in areas of health workforce and essential medical products and technologies. Seven out of the 21 health facilities provided both screening and treatment. Results showed challenges in the management of the cervical cancer program at district level; inadequate service providers who are poorly supervised; lack of basic equipment and stock-outs of basic medical supplies in some health facilities; and inadequate funding of the program. In most of the health facilities, services providers were not aware of the policy which govern their work and that they did not have standards and guidelines for cervical cancer screening and treatment.
Numerous health system challenges are prevailing in the cervical cancer prevention program in Malawi. These challenges need to be addressed if the health system is to improve on the coverage of cervical cancer screening and treatment.
PMCID: PMC4306748  PMID: 25623612
cervical cancer prevention; health system gaps; Malawi
5.  Cervical Screening at Age 50–64 Years and the Risk of Cervical Cancer at Age 65 Years and Older: Population-Based Case Control Study 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(1):e1001585.
Peter Sasieni and colleagues use a population-based case control study to assess the risk of cervical cancer in screened women aged over 65 years to help inform policy on the upper age of cervical cancer screening.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
There is little consensus, and minimal evidence, regarding the age at which to stop cervical screening. We studied the association between screening at age 50–64 y and cervical cancer at age 65–83 y.
Methods and Findings
Cases were women (n = 1,341) diagnosed with cervical cancer at age 65–83 y between 1 April 2007 and 31 March 2012 in England and Wales; age-matched controls (n = 2,646) were randomly selected from population registers. Screening details from 1988 onwards were extracted from national databases. We calculated the odds ratios (OR) for different screening histories and subsequent cervical cancer. Women with adequate negative screening at age 65 y (288 cases, 1,395 controls) were at lowest risk of cervical cancer (20-y risk: 8 cancers per 10,000 women) compared with those (532 cases, 429 controls) not screened at age 50–64 y (20-y risk: 49 cancers per 10,000 women, with OR = 0.16, 95% CI 0.13–0.19). ORs depended on the age mix of women because of the weakening association with time since last screen: OR = 0.11, 95% CI 0.08–0.14 at 2.5 to 7.5 y since last screen; OR = 0.27, 95% CI 0.20–0.36 at 12.5 to 17.5 y since last screen. Screening at least every 5.5 y between the ages 50 and 64 y was associated with a 75% lower risk of cervical cancer between the ages 65 and 79 y (OR = 0.25, 95% CI 0.21–0.30), and the attributable risk was such that in the absence of screening, cervical cancer rates in women aged 65+ would have been 2.4 (95% CI 2.1–2.7) times higher. In women aged 80–83 y the association was weaker (OR = 0.49, 95% CI 0.28–0.83) than in those aged 65–69 y (OR = 0.12, 95% CI 0.09–0.17). This study was limited by an absence of data on confounding factors; additionally, findings based on cytology may not generalise to human papillomavirus testing.
Women with adequate negative screening at age 50–64 y had one-sixth of the risk of cervical cancer at age 65–83 y compared with women who were not screened. Stopping screening between ages 60 and 69 y in women with adequate negative screening seems sensible, but further screening may be justifiable as life expectancy increases.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Nearly one in ten cancers diagnosed in women occur in the cervix, the structure that connects the womb to the vagina. Every year, more than a quarter of a million women (mostly in developing countries) die because of cervical cancer, which occurs only after the cervix has been infected with human papillomavirus (HPV) through sexual intercourse. In the earliest stages of cervical cancer, abnormal cells begin to grow in the cervix. Cells with low-grade abnormalities (changes that often revert to normal), cells with high-grade abnormalities (which are more likely to become cancerous), and cancer cells can all be detected by collecting a few cells from the cervix and examining them under a microscope. This test forms the basis of cervical screening, which has greatly reduced cervical cancer deaths in countries with a national screening program by ensuring that cervical abnormalities are detected at an early, treatable stage. In the UK, for example, since the start of a cervical screening program in 1988 in which women aged 25–64 years are called for testing every 3–5 years, the incidence of cervical cancer (the number of new cases per year) has almost halved at a time when sexually transmitted diseases have more than doubled.
Why Was This Study Done?
Currently, there is little consensus about the age at which cervical screening should stop, and minimal evidence about the impact of cervical screening on the incidence of cervical cancer in older women. In this population-based case control study (a study that compares the characteristics of all the cases of a disease in a population with the characteristics of matched individuals without the disease), the researchers examine the association between screening in women aged 50–64 years and cervical cancer in women aged 65–83 years. They ask whether well-screened women with a history of negative results and no evidence of high-grade abnormalities are at sufficiently low risk of cervical cancer that screening can be stopped at age 65 years, and whether women who are regularly screened (at least once every 5.5 years) between the ages of 50 and 64 years are subsequently at reduced risk of cervical cancer.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers randomly selected two age-matched controls for every woman aged 65–83 years who was diagnosed with cervical cancer between 2007 and 2012 in England and Wales. The researchers included 1,341 women with cervical cancer and 2,646 controls. They extracted each woman's cervical screening details from national databases and calculated the association between screening history and subsequent cervical cancer. Women with adequate negative screening at age 65 years (at least three tests at age 50–64 years with the last one over age 60, the last three of which were negative, and no evidence of high-grade abnormalities) were at the lowest risk of cervical cancer (20-year risk of eight cancers per 10,000 women) compared with unscreened women (20-year risk of 49 cancers per 10,000 women). That is, women who were not screened at age 50–64 years were six times more likely to develop cervical cancer between the ages of 65 and 83 years than women who were screened. The risk of developing cervical cancer among adequately negatively screened women increased with age and with time since the last screen. Finally, the researchers estimate that in the absence of any cervical screening, the rate of cervical cancer among women aged 65–79 years would be 23 cases per 100,000 woman-years, 2.4 times higher than the current rate.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that women who exited the screening program in England and Wales with a history of adequate negative screening between the ages of 50 and 64 years were at a very low risk of being diagnosed with cervical cancer at the age of 65 years or older. The “protection” provided by screening was greatest for women aged 65–69 years and decreased steadily with increasing age and with time since the last negative screen. Because the researchers did not have any information on other characteristics that might have affected cervical cancer risk (for example, number of sexual partners), the women who were screened may have shared other characteristics that reduced their risk of developing cervical cancer. Moreover, these findings, which are based on microscopic examination of cells, may not generalise to the HPV-based screening programs that many countries are considering. Despite these limitations, the researchers conclude that, for now, it seems sensible to continue screening at least until age 60 years and not beyond age 69 years in women with adequate negative screening, but that given increasing life expectancy, screening in older women might be justified in the future.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Anne Rositch and colleagues
The US National Cancer Institute provides information about cervical cancer for patients and for health professionals, including information on cervical screening (in English and Spanish)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has information about cervical cancer and about cervical screening
The UK National Health Service Cervical Screening Programme website has detailed information and statistics on cervical screening in England
The UK National Health Service Choices website has pages on cervical cancer (including a personal story about cervical cancer) and on cervical screening (including personal comments about screening)
Cancer Research UK provides detailed information about all aspects of cervical cancer
More information about cervical cancer and screening is available from the Macmillan cancer charity
MedlinePlus provides links to additional resources about cervical cancer and screening (in English and Spanish)
Personal stories about cervical cancer and about cervical screening are available through the charity Healthtalkonline
PMCID: PMC3891624  PMID: 24453946
6.  Men’s knowledge and attitudes about cervical cancer screening in Kenya 
BMC Women's Health  2014;14(1):138.
A number of studies have identified male involvement as an important factor affecting reproductive health outcomes, particularly in the areas of family planning, antenatal care, and HIV care. As access to cervical cancer screening programs improves in resource-poor settings, particularly through the integration of HIV and cervical cancer services, it is important to understand the role of male partner support in women’s utilization of screening and treatment.
We administered an oral survey to 110 men in Western Kenya about their knowledge and attitudes regarding cervical cancer and cervical cancer screening. Men who had female partners eligible for cervical cancer screening were recruited from government health facilities where screening was offered free of charge.
Specific knowledge about cervical cancer risk factors, prevention, and treatment was low. Only half of the men perceived their partners to be at risk for cervical cancer, and many reported that a positive screen would be emotionally upsetting. Nevertheless, all participants said they would encourage their partners to get screened.
Future interventions should tailor cervical cancer educational opportunities towards men. Further research is needed among both men and couples to better understand barriers to male support for screening and treatment and to determine how to best involve men in cervical cancer prevention efforts.
PMCID: PMC4254217  PMID: 25416335
Cervical cancer prevention; Health knowledge and attitudes; Men; HIV; Women’s global health; Sub-Saharan Africa
7.  Promoting universal financial protection: contracting faith-based health facilities to expand access – lessons learned from Malawi 
Public-private collaborations are increasingly being utilized to universalize health care. In Malawi, the Ministry of Health contracts selected health facilities owned by the main faith-based provider, the Christian Health Association of Malawi (CHAM), to deliver care at no fee to the most vulnerable and underserved populations in the country through Service Level Agreements (SLAs). This study examined the features of SLAs and their effectiveness in expanding universal coverage. The study involved a policy analysis focusing on key stakeholders around SLAs as well as a case study approach to analyse how design and implementation of SLAs affect efficiency, equity and sustainability of services delivered by SLAs.
The study employed both qualitative and quantitative research methods to address the research questions and was conducted in five CHAM health facilities: Mulanje Mission, Holy Family, and Mtengowanthenga Hospitals, and Mabiri and Nkope Health Centres. National and district level decision makers were interviewed while providers and clients associated with the health facilities were surveyed on their experiences. A total of 155 clients from an expected 175 were recruited in the study.
The study findings revealed key aspects of how SLAs were operating, the extent to which their objectives were being attained and why. In general, the findings demonstrated that SLAs had the potential to improve health and universal health care coverage, particularly for the vulnerable and underserved populations. However, the findings show that the performance of SLAs in Malawi were affected by various factors including lack of clear guidelines, non-revised prices, late payment of bills, lack of transparency, poor communication, inadequate human and material resources, and lack of systems to monitor performance of SLAs, amongst others.
There was strong consensus and shared interest between the government and CHAM regarding SLAs. It was clear that free services provided by SLAs had a great impact on the impoverished locals that used the facilities. However, lack of supporting systems, inadequate infrastructure and shortage of health care providers affected SLA performance. The paper provides recommendations to policy makers for the replication and strengthening of SLA implementation in the roll-out of universalization policy.
PMCID: PMC3751183  PMID: 23958156
Health policy; Financial risk protection; Policy analysis; Universal coverage
8.  Packaging Health Services When Resources Are Limited: The Example of a Cervical Cancer Screening Visit 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(11):e434.
Increasing evidence supporting the value of screening women for cervical cancer once in their lifetime, coupled with mounting interest in scaling up successful screening demonstration projects, present challenges to public health decision makers seeking to take full advantage of the single-visit opportunity to provide additional services. We present an analytic framework for packaging multiple interventions during a single point of contact, explicitly taking into account a budget and scarce human resources, constraints acknowledged as significant obstacles for provision of health services in poor countries.
Methods and Findings
We developed a binary integer programming (IP) model capable of identifying an optimal package of health services to be provided during a single visit for a particular target population. Inputs to the IP model are derived using state-transition models, which compute lifetime costs and health benefits associated with each intervention. In a simplified example of a single lifetime cervical cancer screening visit, we identified packages of interventions among six diseases that maximized disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) averted subject to budget and human resource constraints in four resource-poor regions. Data were obtained from regional reports and surveys from the World Health Organization, international databases, the published literature, and expert opinion. With only a budget constraint, interventions for depression and iron deficiency anemia were packaged with cervical cancer screening, while the more costly breast cancer and cardiovascular disease interventions were not. Including personnel constraints resulted in shifting of interventions included in the package, not only across diseases but also between low- and high-intensity intervention options within diseases.
The results of our example suggest several key themes: Packaging other interventions during a one-time visit has the potential to increase health gains; the shortage of personnel represents a real-world constraint that can impact the optimal package of services; and the shortage of different types of personnel may influence the contents of the package of services. Our methods provide a general framework to enhance a decision maker's ability to simultaneously consider costs, benefits, and important nonmonetary constraints. We encourage analysts working on real-world problems to shift from considering costs and benefits of interventions for a single disease to exploring what synergies might be achievable by thinking across disease burdens.
Jane Kim and colleagues analyzed the possible ways that multiple health interventions might be packaged together during a single visit, taking into account scarce financial and human resources.
Editors' Summary
Public health decision makers in developed and developing countries are exploring the idea of providing packages of health checks at specific times during a person's lifetime to detect and/or prevent life-threatening diseases such as diabetes, heart problems, and some cancers. Bundling together tests for different diseases has advantages for both health-care systems and patients. It can save time and money for both parties and, by associating health checks with life events such as childbirth, it can take advantage of a valuable opportunity to check on the overall health of individuals who may otherwise rarely visit a doctor. But money and other resources (for example, nurses to measure blood pressure) are always limited, even in wealthy countries, so decision makers have to assess the likely costs and benefits of packages of interventions before putting them into action.
Why Was This Study Done?
Recent evidence suggests that women in developing countries would benefit from a once-in-a-lifetime screen for cervical cancer, a leading cause of cancer death for this population. If such a screening strategy for cervical cancer were introduced, it might provide a good opportunity to offer women other health checks, but it is unclear which interventions should be packaged together. In this study, the researchers have developed an analytic framework to identify an optimal package of health services to offer to women attending a clinic for their lifetime cervical cancer screen. Their model takes into account monetary limitations and possible shortages in trained personnel to do the health checks, and balances these constraints against the likely health benefits for the women.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers developed a “mathematical programming” model to identify an optimal package of health services to be provided during a single visit. They then used their model to estimate the average costs and health outcomes per woman of various combinations of health interventions for 35- to 40-year-old women living in four regions of the world with high adult death rates. The researchers chose breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, depression, anemia caused by iron deficiency, and sexually transmitted diseases as health conditions to be checked in addition to cervical cancer during the single visit. They considered two ways—one cheap in terms of money and people; the other more expensive but often more effective—of checking for or dealing with each potential health problem. When they set a realistic budgetary constraint (based on the annual health budget of the poorest countries and a single health check per woman in the two decades following her reproductive years), the optimal health package generated by the model for all four regions included cervical cancer screening done by testing for human papillomavirus (an effective but complex test), treatment for depression, and screening or treatment for anemia. When a 50% shortage in general (for example, nurses) and specialized (for example, doctors) personnel time was also included, the health benefits of the package were maximized by using a simpler test for cervical cancer and by treating anemia but not depression; this freed up resources in some regions to screen for breast cancer or cardiovascular disease.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The model described by the researchers provides a way to explore the potential advantages of delivering a package of health interventions to individuals in a single visit. Like all mathematical models, its conclusions rely heavily on the data used in its construction. Indeed, the researchers stress that, because they did not have full data on the effectiveness of each intervention and made many other assumptions, their results on their own cannot be used to make policy decisions. Nevertheless, their results clearly show that the packaging of multiple health services during a single visit has great potential to maximize health gains, provided the right interventions are chosen. Most importantly, their analysis shows that in the real world the shortage of personnel, which has been ignored in previous analyses even though it is a major problem in many developing countries, will affect which health conditions and specific interventions should be bundled together to provide the greatest impact on public health.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The World Health Organization has information on choosing cost-effective health interventions and on human resources for health
The American Cancer Society offers patient information on cervical cancer
The Alliance for Cervical Cancer Prevention includes information about cervical cancer prevention programs in developing countries
PMCID: PMC1635742  PMID: 17105337
9.  Determinants of Cervical screening services uptake among 18–49 year old women seeking services at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital, Kisumu, Kenya 
Kenyan women aged ≥15 years are at risk of developing cervical cancer. Currently, cervical cytology reduces cervical cancer incidence, since it allows for early diagnosis and treatment. Uptake of cervical screening services is a priority research area in Kenya. Central to the success of any screening programme is its ability to identify, reach out and screen the defined target population. Cervical screening coverage in Kenya is currently at 3.2%. In Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH) in Nyanza, the number screened for cervical cancer is low (averagely 3/day). Thus the current study sought to identify factors influencing uptake of cervical screening services at the facility.
In a cross-sectional study, knowledge, perceptions and cues for action associated with self-reported cervical screening uptake were explored. The targeted population (n = 424), purposively selected were women of child-bearing age (18–49 years) visiting JOOTRH. Data on socio-demographic status (age, level of education, marital status, job status, income level), knowledge of cervical cancer, perceptions on severity and susceptibility to the disease were collected using self-administered structured questionnaires. Statistical significance of differences in proportions were determined by chi-square analyses while logistic regression analyses were used to identify determinants of self-reported uptake of the service.
Self-reported screening uptake was 17.5%. There was a strong positive association between age (P < 0.0001), level of education (P < 0.0001) and income levels (P = 0.005) with the uptake of the service. Knowledge level on the signs and symptoms of cervical cancer was an important determinant for being screened for cervical cancer (P < 0.0001). Furthermore, those who said they didn’t know about the disease (OR, 26.84, 95% CI, 6.07-118.61, P < 0.0001) or were not aware about susceptibility to it (OR, 2.37, 95% CI, 1.10-5.08, P = 0.02) had a higher likelihood of not being screened. On cues for action, those who attended the child welfare clinic were more likely to be screened (OR, 2.31, 95% CI, 1.17-3.93, P = 0.03).
Knowledge, perception of higher susceptibility and attending child welfare clinic are key determinants of self-reported uptake of cervical screening. Increasing knowledge, enhancing health education and providing free services may increase uptake among women population in such settings.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-335) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4271847  PMID: 25100298
Cervical; Women; Screening services; Determinants; Kenya
10.  Assessing Awareness and Knowledge of Breast and Cervical Cancer Among Appalachian Women 
Preventing Chronic Disease  2006;3(4):A125.
West Virginia is the only state that lies entirely within Appalachia. West Virginians tend to be poorer and more likely to lack health insurance than the general U.S. population. The purpose of this qualitative study was to 1) obtain an understanding of attitudes about breast and cervical cancer screening among women aged 25 to 64 years; 2) determine factors that motivate women to be screened for breast and cervical cancer; and 3) evaluate educational materials about breast and cervical cancer screening for use in this population.
The West Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program (WVBCCSP) is a comprehensive public health program, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dedicated to removing barriers to breast and cervical cancer screening and providing screenings to underserved women aged 25 to 64 years. The program partnered with RMS Strategies, Inc, to conduct six focus groups in three communities in West Virginia. Women were recruited by telephone based on program eligibility guidelines.
Results indicated that women were concerned about health care costs and lack of health insurance. Cost, fear, and embarrassment were identified as the top barriers to breast and cervical cancer screening. Participants believed that community-based educational campaigns would increase screening and promote use of the WVBCCSP.
Understanding why low-income Appalachian women do not get screened for breast and cervical cancer and determining motivational factors that encourage screening are important to increase screening rates among this population. Breast and cervical cancer efforts that use the words, knowledge, and suggestions of the women they serve are more likely to be effective and have a larger impact.
PMCID: PMC1779289  PMID: 16978500
11.  Awareness, perception and factors affecting utilization of cervical cancer screening services among women in Ibadan, Nigeria: a qualitative study 
Reproductive Health  2012;9:11.
Over the years awareness and uptake of cervical cancer screening services has remained poor in developing countries. Problems associated with cervical cancer incidence include late reporting, ignorance and cultural issues relating to cervical cancer screening. This study sought to explore the awareness, perception and utilization of cervical cancer screening among women in Ibadan as well as factors that influence utilization.
This is a qualitative study that utilized Eight Focus Group Discussions to collect information from women in selected health facilities in Ibadan, South West, Nigeria. The 82 participants were purposely recruited from women attending Antenatal clinics in 4 secondary and 4 primary health care facilities after approval was received from the Institutional Review Board in charge of the facilities. The focus group discussions were tape recorded and transcribed verbatim. The transcripts were analyzed into themes.
The study provided qualitative information on the awareness, perception of the utilization of cervical cancer screening services among women in Ibadan. Participants were mainly married women (92.7%), mean age =27.6, SD =4.5, mainly traders (39%) and from Yoruba ethnic backgrounds (87.8%) and had secondary education (39%). The respondents reported not being aware of cervical cancer and were not utilizing the services. Though they did not know what cervical cancer screening entailed or the screening methods, they still believed that it is important since like for other diseases will help in early detection and treatment. The participants were eager to get more information from nurses on cervical cancer about cervical cancer screening. The major factors identified by the women that influence screening utilization were ignorance, Illiteracy, belief in not being at risk, having many contending issues, nonchalant attitude to their health, financial constraint and fear of having a positive result.
There is an urgent need for more enlightenment about cervical cancer especially by health workers. Also, cervical cancer services should be made available at very affordable cost so that women can easily access the services in order to reduce incidence of invasive cancer.
PMCID: PMC3539913  PMID: 22866676
Awareness; Perception; Utilization; Cervical cancer screening; Women
12.  Knowledge, attitudes and practices on cervical cancer screening among the medical workers of Mulago Hospital, Uganda 
Cervical cancer is the commonest cancer of women in Uganda. Over 80% of women diagnosed in Mulago national referral and teaching hospital, the biggest hospital in Uganda, have advanced disease. Pap smear screening, on opportunistic rather than systematic basis, is offered free in the gynaecological outpatients clinic and the postnatal/family planning clinics. Medical students in the third and final clerkships are expected to learn the techniques of screening. Objectives of this study were to describe knowledge on cervical cancer, attitudes and practices towards cervical cancer screening among the medical workers of Mulago hospital.
In a descriptive cross-sectional study, a weighted sample of 310 medical workers including nurses, doctors and final year medical students were interviewed using a self-administered questionnaire. We measured knowledge about cervical cancer: (risk factors, eligibility for screening and screening techniques), attitudes towards cervical cancer screening and practices regarding screening.
Response rate was 92% (285). Of these, 93% considered cancer of the cervix a public health problem and knowledge about Pap smear was 83% among respondents. Less than 40% knew risk factors for cervical cancer, eligibility for and screening interval. Of the female respondents, 65% didn't feel susceptible to cervical cancer and 81% had never been screened. Of the male respondents, only 26% had partners who had ever been screened. Only 14% of the final year medical students felt skilled enough to use a vaginal speculum and 87% had never performed a pap smear.
Despite knowledge of the gravity of cervical cancer and prevention by screening using a Pap smear, attitudes and practices towards screening were negative. The medical workers who should be responsible for opportunistic screening of women they care for are not keen on getting screened themselves. There is need to explain/understand the cause of these attitudes and practices and identify possible interventions to change them. Medical students leave medical school without adequate skills to be able to effectively screen women for cervical cancer wherever they go to practice. Medical students and nurses training curricula needs review to incorporate practical skills on cervical cancer screening.
PMCID: PMC1413529  PMID: 16509979
13.  Anal Dysplasia Screening 
Executive Summary
This review considered the role of the anal Pap test as a screening test for anal dysplasia in patients at high risk of anal SCC. The screening process is now thought to be improved with the addition of testing for the human papillomavirus (HPV) in high-risk populations. High-resolution anoscopy (a method to view the rectal area, using an anoscope, a lighted instrument inserted into the rectum) rather than routine anoscopy-guided biopsy, is also now considered to be the diagnostic standard.
Clinical Need: Target Population and Condition
Anal cancer, like cervical cancer, is a member of a broader group of anogenital cancers known to be associated with sexually transmitted viral HPV infection. Human papillomavirus is extremely prevalent, particularly in young, sexually active populations. Sexual practices involving receptive anal intercourse lead to significantly elevated risk for anal dysplasia and cancer, particularly in those with immune dysfunctions.
Anal cancer is rare. It occurs at a rate of about 1 to 2 per 100,000 in the general population. It is the least common of the lower gastrointestinal cancers, representing about 4% of them, in contrast to colorectal cancers, which remain the third most commonly diagnosed malignancy. Certain segments of the population, however, such as HIV-positive men and women, other chronic immune-suppressed patients (e.g., after a transplant), injection drug users, and women with genital dysplasia /cancer, have a high susceptibility to anal cancer.
Those with the highest identified risk for anal cancer are HIV-positive homosexual and bisexual men, at a rate of 70 per 100,000 men. The risk for anal cancer is reported to be increasing dramatically in HIV-positive males and females, particularly since the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy in the mid-1990s. The introduction of effective viral therapy has been said to have transformed the AIDS epidemic in developed countries into a chronic disease state of long-term immunosuppression. In Ontario, there are about 25,000 people living with HIV infection; more than 6,000 of these are women. About 28% of the newly diagnosed HIV infections are in women, a doubling since 1999. It has also been estimated that 1 of 3 people living with HIV do no know it.
Health Technology Description
Anal Pap test screening involves the blind insertion of a swab into the anal canal and fixing cells either on a slide or in fluid for cytological examination. Anal cytology classified by the standardized Bethesda System is the same classification used for cervical cytology. It has 4 categories: normal, atypical squamous cells of uncertain significance, or squamous intraepithelial lesions which are further classified into low- or high-grade lesions. Abnormal cytological findings are subjected to further evaluations by high-resolution anoscopy, a technique similar to cervical colposcopy, and biopsy. Several HPV deoxyribonucleic acid detection technologies such as the Hybrid 11 Capture and the polymerase chain reaction are available to detect and differentiate HPV viral strains.
Unlike cervical cancer, there are no universally accepted guidelines or standards of care for anal dysplasia. Moreover, there are no formal screening programs provincially, nationally, or internationally. The New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute has recently recommended (March 2007) annual anal pap testing in high-risk groups. In Ontario, reimbursement exists only for Pap tests for cervical cancer screening. That is, there is no reimbursement for anal Pap testing in men or women, and HPV screening tests for cervical or anal cancer are also not reimbursed.
The scientific evidence base was evaluated through a systematic literature review. Assessments of current practices were obtained through consultations with various agencies and individuals including the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care AIDS Bureau; Public Health Infectious Diseases Branch, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care; Cancer Care Ontario; HIV/AIDS researchers; pathology experts; and HIV/AIDS clinical program directors. An Ontario-based budget impact was also done.
No direct evidence was found for the existence of controlled studies evaluating the effectiveness of anal Pap test screening programs for impact on anal cancer morbidity or mortality. In addition, no studies were found on the use of HPV DNA testing in the screening or diagnostic setting for anal dysplasia. The reported prevalence of HPV infection in high-risk groups, particularly HIV-positive males, however, was sufficiently high to preclude any utility of HPV testing as an adjunct to anal Pap testing.
Nine reports involving studies in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada were identified that evaluated the performance characteristics of anal Pap test screening for anal dysplasia. All involved hospital-based specialty HIV/AIDS care clinics with mainly HIV-positive males. All studies involved experienced pathologists, so the results generally represent best-case scenarios. Estimates of anal Pap test sensitivity and specificity were highly variable, and depended on the varying prevalence of cytology abnormality and differential thresholds for abnormality for both cytology and histopathology.
In the largest study of HIV-positive males, sensitivity varied from 46% (95% confidence interval [CI], 36%–56%) to 69% (95% CI, 60%–78%). Specificity ranged from 59% (95% CI, 53%–65%) to 81% (95% CI, 76%–85%). In the only study of HIV-negative males, sensitivity ranged from 26% (95% CI, 5%-47%) to 47% (95% CI, 26%–68%). Specificity ranged from 81% (95% CI, 76%–85%) to 92% (95% CI, 89%–95%).
In comparison, cervical Pap testing has also been evaluated mainly in settings where there is a high prevalence of the disease, and estimates of sensitivitykij and specificity were also low and highly variable. In a systematic review involving cervical Pap testing, sensitivity ranged from 30% to 87% (mean, 47%) and specificity from 86% to 100% (mean, 95%).
No direct evidence exists to support the effectiveness of an anal Pap test screening program to reduce anal cancer mortality or morbidity. There are, however, strong parallels with cervical pap testing for cervical cancer. Sexually transmitted HPV viral infection is currently the acknowledged common causative agent for both anal and cervical cancer. Anal cancer rates in high-risk populations are approaching those of cervical cancer before the implementation of Pap testing.
The anal Pap test, although it has been mainly evaluated only in HIV-positive males, has similar operating characteristics of sensitivity and specificity as the cervical Pap test. In general, the treatment options for precancer dysplasia in the cervix and the anus are similar, but treatment involving a definitive surgical resection in the anus is more limited because of the higher risk of complications. A range of ablative therapies has been applied for anal dysplasia, but evidence on treatment effectiveness, tolerability and durability, particularly in the HIV-positive patient, is limited.
PMCID: PMC3377578  PMID: 23074504
14.  Understanding cervical cancer screening among lesbians: a national survey 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:442.
Lesbians have low rates of cervical cancer screening, even though they are at risk of developing the disease. The aim of this study was to examine cervical cancer screening behaviors in a national sample of lesbians.
A standardized internet survey was sent to 3,000 self-identified lesbians to assess cervical cancer screening behaviors and barriers to screening. The sample consisted of 1,006 respondents.
Sixty-two percent of the weighted sample of respondents were routine screeners. Lack of a physician referral (17.5%) and lack of a physician (17.3%) were the most commonly-cited top reasons for lack of screening. Adjusting for age, education, relationship status, employments status, and insurance status, women who had disclosed their sexual orientation to their primary care physician (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 2.84 [95% confidence interval 1.82-4.45]) or gynecologist (OR 2.30 [1.33-3.96]) had greater odds of routine screening than those who did not. Those who knew that lack of Pap testing is a risk factor for cervical cancer were also more likely to be routine screeners (OR 1.95 [1.30-2.91]), although no association with screening was apparent for women who had more knowledge of general cervical cancer risk factors. Physician recommendation appeared to be a potent determinant of regular screening behavior. Routine screeners perceived more benefits and fewer barriers to screening, as well as higher susceptibility to cervical cancer.
Some women who identify as lesbian are at a potentially elevated risk of cervical cancer because they are not routinely screened. Evidence-based interventions should be developed to address critical health beliefs that undermine participation in screening. Given the value placed on physician recommendation, patient-provider communication may serve as the optimal focus of effective intervention.
PMCID: PMC3693978  PMID: 23642184
Homosexuality; Female; Papanicolaou test; Reproductive health; Health behavior
15.  Robotic-Assisted Minimally Invasive Surgery for Gynecologic and Urologic Oncology 
Executive Summary
An application was received to review the evidence on the ‘The Da Vinci Surgical System’ for the treatment of gynecologic malignancies (e.g. endometrial and cervical cancers). Limitations to the current standard of care include the lack of trained physicians on minimally invasive surgery and limited access to minimally invasive surgery for patients. The potential benefits of ‘The Da Vinci Surgical System’ include improved technical manipulation and physician uptake leading to increased surgeries, and treatment and management of these cancers.
The demand for robotic surgery for the treatment and management of prostate cancer has been increasing due to its alleged benefits of recovery of erectile function and urinary continence, two important factors of men’s health. The potential technical benefits of robotic surgery leading to improved patient functional outcomes are surgical precision and vision.
Clinical Need
Uterine and cervical cancers represent 5.4% (4,400 of 81,700) and 1.6% (1,300 of 81,700), respectively, of incident cases of cancer among female cancers in Canada. Uterine cancer, otherwise referred to as endometrial cancer is cancer of the lining of the uterus. The most common treatment option for endometrial cancer is removing the cancer through surgery. A surgical option is the removal of the uterus and cervix through a small incision in the abdomen using a laparoscope which is referred to as total laparoscopic hysterectomy. Risk factors that increase the risk of endometrial cancer include taking estrogen replacement therapy after menopause, being obese, early age at menarche, late age at menopause, being nulliparous, having had high-dose radiation to the pelvis, and use of tamoxifen.
Cervical cancer occurs at the lower narrow end of the uterus. There are more treatment options for cervical cancer compared to endometrial cancer, however total laparoscopic hysterectomy is also a treatment option. Risk factors that increase the risk for cervical cancer are multiple sexual partners, early sexual activity, infection with the human papillomavirus, and cigarette smoking, whereas barrier-type of contraception as a risk factor decreases the risk of cervical cancer.
Prostate cancer is ranked first in men in Canada in terms of the number of new cases among all male cancers (25,500 of 89,300 or 28.6%). The impact on men who develop prostate cancer is substantial given the potential for erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence. Prostate cancer arises within the prostate gland, which resides in the male reproductive system and near the bladder. Radical retropubic prostatectomy is the gold standard treatment for localized prostate cancer. Prostate cancer affects men above 60 years of age. Other risk factors include a family history of prostate cancer, being of African descent, being obese, consuming a diet high in fat, physical inactivity, and working with cadium.
The Da Vinci Surgical System
The Da Vinci Surgical System is a robotic device. There are four main components to the system: 1) the surgeon’s console, where the surgeon sits and views a magnified three-dimensional image of the surgical field; 2) patient side-cart, which sits beside the patient and consists of three instrument arms and one endoscope arm; 3) detachable instruments (endowrist instruments and intuitive masters), which simulate fine motor human movements. The hand movements of the surgeon’s hands at the surgeon’s console are translated into smaller ones by the robotic device and are acted out by the attached instruments; 4) three-dimensional vision system: the camera unit or endoscope arm. The main advantages of use of the robotic device are: 1) the precision of the instrument and improved dexterity due to the use of “wristed” instruments; 2) three-dimensional imaging, with improved ability to locate blood vessels, nerves and tissues; 3) the surgeon’s console, which reduces fatigue accompanied with conventional laparoscopy surgery and allows for tremor-free manipulation. The main disadvantages of use of the robotic device are the costs including instrument costs ($2.6 million in US dollars), cost per use ($200 per use), the costs associated with training surgeons and operating room personnel, and the lack of tactile feedback, with the trade-off being increased visual feedback.
Research Questions
For endometrial and cervical cancers,
1. What is the effectiveness of the Da Vinci Surgical System vs. laparoscopy and laparotomy for women undergoing any hysterectomy for the surgical treatment and management of their endometrial and cervical cancers?
2. What are the incremental costs of the Da Vinci Surgical System vs. laparoscopy and laparotomy for women undergoing any hysterectomy for the surgical treatment and management of their endometrial and cervical cancers?
For prostate cancer,
3. What is the effectiveness of robotically-assisted radical prostatectomy using the Da Vinci Surgical System vs. laparoscopic radical prostatectomy and retropubic radical prostatectomy for the surgical treatment and management of prostate cancer?
4. What are the incremental costs of robotically-assisted radical prostatectomy using the Da Vinci Surgical System vs. laparoscopic radical prostatectomy and retropubic radical prostatectomy for the surgical treatment and management of prostate cancer?
Research Methods
Literature Search
Search Strategy
A literature search was performed on May 12, 2010 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, OVID EMBASE, Wiley Cochrane, CINAHL, Centre for Reviews and Dissemination/International Agency for Health Technology Assessment for studies published from January 1, 2000 until May 12, 2010. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria, full-text articles were obtained. Reference lists were also examined for any additional relevant studies not identified through the search. Articles with unknown eligibility were reviewed with a second clinical epidemiologist, then a group of epidemiologists until consensus was established. The quality of evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low or very low according to GRADE methodology.
Inclusion Criteria
English language articles (January 1, 2000-May 12, 2010)
Journal articles that report on the effectiveness or cost-effectiveness for the comparisons of interest using a primary data source (e.g. obtained in a clinical setting)
Journal articles that report on the effectiveness or cost-effectiveness for the comparisons of interest using a secondary data source (e.g. hospital- or population-based registries)
Study design and methods must be clearly described
Health technology assessments, systematic reviews, randomized controlled trials, non-randomized controlled trials and/or cohort studies, case-case studies, regardless of sample size, cost-effectiveness studies
Exclusion Criteria
Duplicate publications (with the more recent publication on the same study population included)
Non-English papers
Animal or in-vitro studies
Case reports or case series without a referent or comparison group
Studies on long-term survival which may be affected by treatment
Studies that do not examine the cancers (e.g. advanced disease) or outcomes of interest
Outcomes of Interest
For endometrial and cervical cancers,
Primary outcomes:
Morbidity factors
- Length of hospitalization
- Number of complications*
Peri-operative factors
- Operation time
- Amount of blood loss*
- Number of conversions to laparotomy*
Number of lymph nodes recovered
For prostate cancer,
Primary outcomes:
Morbidity factors
- Length of hospitalization
- Amount of morphine use/pain*
Peri-operative factors
- Operation time
- Amount of blood loss*
- Number of transfusions*
- Duration of catheterization
- Number of complications*
- Number of anastomotic strictures*
Number of lymph nodes recovered
Oncologic factors
- Proportion of positive surgical margins
Long-term outcomes
- Urinary continence
- Erectile function
Summary of Findings
Robotic use for gynecologic oncology compared to:
Laparotomy: benefits of robotic surgery in terms of shorter length of hospitalization and less blood loss. These results indicate clinical effectiveness in terms of reduced morbidity and safety, respectively, in the context of study design limitations.
The beneficial effect of robotic surgery was shown in pooled analysis for complications, owing to increased sample size.
More work is needed to clarify the role of complications in terms of safety, including improved study designs, analysis and measurement.
Laparoscopy: benefits of robotic surgery in terms of shorter length of hospitalization, less blood loss and fewer conversions to laparotomy likely owing to the technical difficulty of conventional laparoscopy, in the context of study design limitations.
Clinical significance of significant findings for length of hospitalizations and blood loss is low.
Fewer conversions to laparotomy indicate clinical effectiveness in terms of reduced morbidity.
Robotic use for urologic oncology, specifically prostate cancer, compared to:
Retropubic surgery: benefits of robotic surgery in terms of shorter length of hospitalization and less blood loss/fewer individuals requiring transfusions. These results indicate clinical effectiveness in terms of reduced morbidity and safety, respectively, in the context of study design limitations. There was a beneficial effect in terms of decreased positive surgical margins and erectile dysfunction. These results indicate clinical effectiveness in terms of improved cancer control and functional outcomes, respectively, in the context of study design limitations.
Surgeon skill had an impact on cancer control and functional outcomes.
The results for complications were inconsistent when measured as either total number of complications, pain management or anastomosis. There is some suggestion that robotic surgery is safe with respect to less post-operative pain management required compared to retropubic surgery, however improved study design and measurement of complications need to be further addressed.
Clinical significance of significant findings for length of hospitalizations is low.
Laparoscopy: benefits of robotic surgery in terms of less blood loss and fewer individuals requiring transfusions likely owing to the technical difficulty of conventional laparoscopy, in the context of study design limitations.
Clinical significance of significant findings for blood loss is low.
The potential link between less blood loss, improved visualization and improved functional outcomes is an important consideration for use of robotics.
All studies included were observational in nature and therefore the results must be interpreted cautiously.
Economic Analysis
The objective of this project was to assess the economic impact of robotic-assisted laparoscopy (RAL) for endometrial, cervical, and prostate cancers in the province of Ontario.
A budget impact analysis was undertaken to report direct costs associated with open surgery (OS), endoscopic laparoscopy (EL) and robotic-assisted laparoscopy (RAL) based on clinical literature review outcomes, to report a budget impact in the province based on volumes and costs from administrative data sets, and to project a future impact of RAL in Ontario. A cost-effectiveness analysis was not conducted because of the low quality evidence from the clinical literature review.
Hospital costs were obtained from the Ontario Case Costing Initiative (OCCI) for the appropriate Canadian Classification of Health Intervention (CCI) codes restricted to selective ICD-10 diagnostic codes after consultation with experts in the field. Physician fees were obtained from the Ontario Schedule of Benefits (OSB) after consultation with experts in the field. Fees were costed based on operation times reported in the clinical literature for the procedures being investigated. Volumes of procedures were obtained from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) administrative databases.
Direct costs associated with RAL, EL and OS included professional fees, hospital costs (including disposable instruments), radiotherapy costs associated with positive surgical margins in prostate cancer and conversion to OS in gynecological cancer. The total cost per case was higher for RAL than EL and OS for both gynecological and prostate cancers. There is also an acquisition cost associated with RAL. After conversation with the only supplier in Canada, hospitals are looking to spend an initial 3.6M to acquire the robotic surgical system
Previous volumes of OS and EL procedures were used to project volumes into Years 1-3 using a linear mathematical expression. Burden of OS and EL hysterectomies and prostatectomies was calculated by multiplying the number of cases for that year by the cost/case of the procedure.
The number of procedures is expected to increase in the next three years based on historical data. RAL is expected to capture this market by 65% after consultation with experts. If it’s assumed that RAL will capture the current market in Ontario by 65%, the net impact is expected to be by Year 3, 3.1M for hysterectomy and 6.7M for prostatectomy procedures respectively in the province.
RAL has diffused in the province with four surgical systems in place in Ontario, two in Toronto and two in London. RAL is a more expensive technology on a per case basis due to more expensive robot specific instrumentation and physician labour reflected by increased OR time reported in the clinical literature. There is also an upfront cost to acquire the machine and maintenance contract. RAL is expected to capture the market at 65% with project net impacts by Year 3 of 3.1M and 6.7M for hysterectomy and prostatectomy respectively.
PMCID: PMC3382308  PMID: 23074405
16.  Cervical Cancer Screening Among College Students in Ghana: Knowledge and Health Beliefs 
Cervical cancer is the most incident cancer and the leading cause of cancer mortality in women in Ghana. Currently little is known about Ghanaian women's knowledge and beliefs about cervical cancer screening, yet this information is essential to the success of cervical cancer screening programs. The purpose of this study, therefore, was to describe the knowledge and beliefs of women university college students in Ghana.
A cross sectional survey among college women in a university in Ghana elicited information about sociodemographics, knowledge and beliefs and acceptability of cervical cancer screening, screening history, and sexual history. Bivariate analyses were conducted to identify factors associated with screening.
140 females were recruited; the age range was 20-35 years. The prior pap screening rate was 12.0%; Women were unaware of local screening initiatives and only 7.9% were aware of the link between HPV and cervical cancer. The most prevalent barriers were lack of awareness that the purpose of pap screening is to diagnose cancer, concerns about what others may think, and lack of information about how to obtain screening services. Although women perceived the benefits of screening, only about half perceived themselves to be at risk. Women received few screening cues. Three barriers were negatively associated with screening in bivariate analyses: lack of belief that cervical screening diagnoses cancer, belief that pap test is painful and belief that the test will take away virginity.
New screening programs in Ghana should address these barriers and increase screening cues to the public.
PMCID: PMC2826278  PMID: 19407569
cervical cancer screening; health beliefs; Ghanaian women
17.  Medical Mistrust and Discrimination in Health Care: A Qualitative Study of Hmong Women and Men 
Journal of Community Health  2012;37(4):822-829.
Low rates of breast and cervical cancer screening among Hmong women have been documented. Mistrust of Western medicine and the health care system, as well as experiences of discrimination in health care, may be barriers to seeking health care for this population. In this study, we explored medical mistrust among Hmong women and men, their experiences with discrimination in health care, and how these factors may influence Hmong women’s breast and cervical cancer screening behavior. We conducted semi-structured, in-depth interviews with women and men who were members of the Hmong community in Oregon. Transcripts of 83 interviews were analyzed using content analysis. Despite personally trusting Western medicine and the health care system, participants shared reasons that some Hmong people feel mistrust including lack of understanding or familiarity, culture, and tradition. Although mistrust was thought to result in delaying or avoiding breast or cervical cancer screening, more frequently trust was described as positively influencing screening. In addition, few participants reported being treated differently during breast or cervical cancer screening because they were Hmong. When discussing health care more broadly, however, some participants described differential (e.g., disrespectful or rude) treatment. Such experiences led to feelings such as anger and sadness and affected behavior, including willingness to seek care and choice of provider. Medical mistrust and perceived discrimination were not major barriers to breast and cervical cancer screening in this study. Additional studies are needed to assess whether our findings reflect the experiences of other Hmong.
PMCID: PMC3345318  PMID: 22116737
mistrust; discrimination; Hmong; cancer screening
18.  Sources of Breast and Cervical Cancer Information for Hmong Women and Men 
Women & health  2013;53(5):468-478.
Despite low breast and cervical cancer screening levels among Hmong women in the U.S. reported in the literature, understanding of the barriers to screening for Hmong women is limited. Health literacy issues may influence screening behavior for this population. This qualitative study explored sources of information about breast and cervical cancer including screening and identified barriers to seeking such information for Hmong women and men. We conducted semi-structured, in-depth interviews with 84 Hmong women and men living in Oregon, USA. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed. Transcripts of 83 usable interviews were analyzed using content analysis. Health care providers and the Internet were the most frequently cited sources of information about breast and cervical cancer including screening. Other sources were family, friends, and other media. Over half of the participants indicated that nothing would prevent them from seeking information about these topics. These findings suggested that health care providers and the Internet may be important sources of information about breast and cervical cancer screening for Hmong women. Additional research is needed to examine further Hmong women’s health literacy needs and preferences with regards to breast and cervical cancer screening.
PMCID: PMC3777633  PMID: 23879458
Asian; Hmong; sources of information; breast cancer; cervical cancer
19.  Demographic, knowledge, attitudinal, and accessibility factors associated with uptake of cervical cancer screening among women in a rural district of Tanzania: Three public policy implications 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:22.
Cervical cancer is an important public health problem worldwide, which comprises approximately 12% of all cancers in women. In Tanzania, the estimated incidence rate is 30 to 40 per 100,000 women, indicating a high disease burden. Cervical cancer screening is acknowledged as currently the most effective approach for cervical cancer control, and it is associated with reduced incidence and mortality from the disease. The aim of the study was to identify the most important factors related to the uptake of cervical cancer screening among women in a rural district of Tanzania.
A cross sectional study was conducted with a sample of 354 women aged 18 to 69 years residing in Moshi Rural District. A multistage sampling technique was used to randomly select eligible women. A one-hour interview was conducted with each woman in her home. The 17 questions were modified from similar questions used in previous research.
Less than one quarter (22.6%) of the participants had obtained cervical cancer screening. The following characteristics, when examined separately in relation to the uptake of cervical cancer screening service, were significant: husband approval of cervical cancer screening, women's level of education, women's knowledge of cervical cancer and its prevention, women's concerns about embarrassment and pain of screening, women's preference for the sex of health provider, and women's awareness of and distance to cervical cancer screening services. When examined simultaneously in a logistic regression, we found that only knowledge of cervical cancer and its prevention (OR = 8.90, 95%CI = 2.14-16.03) and distance to the facility which provides cervical cancer screening (OR = 3.98, 95%CI = 0.18-5.10) were significantly associated with screening uptake.
Based on the study findings, three recommendations are made. First, information about cervical cancer must be presented to women. Second, public education of the disease must include specific information on how to prevent it as well as screening services available. Third, it is important to provide cervical cancer screening services within 5 km of where women reside.
PMCID: PMC3299640  PMID: 22233530
Public health; Policy; Cervical cancer screening; Women's health
20.  Mexican Immigrant Male Knowledge and Support Toward Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening 
We conducted a focus group study to assess the influence of partner communication on breast and cervical cancer screening and the perceived existing and potential support from male partners in participating in cancer screening. Secondarily, Mexican male and female views on health care and cancer were explored.
Seven focus groups (two female-only, three male-only, and two couples) were conducted in Spanish.
Findings suggest that knowledge about cervical cancer was significantly less than knowledge about breast cancer among both men and women. Barriers to cancer screening included language barriers, lack of health insurance, and lack of awareness of the need for screening. Male partners expressed willingness to support their female partners in cancer screening activities.
Cervical cancer education is desperately needed, including education on the availability of free and low cost screening services. Education efforts should include the male community members, especially as the males perceive themselves as responsible for the financial burden of care.
PMCID: PMC3326388  PMID: 18551367
Cervical cancer; Breast cancer; Screening; Mexican-American; Male involvement; Access to care
21.  An exploration of opportunities and challenges facing cervical cancer managers in Kenya 
BMC Research Notes  2013;6:136.
Kenya like other developing countries is low in resource setting and is facing a number of challenges in the management of cervical cancer. This study documents opportunities and challenges encountered in managing cervical cancer from the health care workers’ perspectives. A qualitative study was conducted among cervical cancer managers who were defined as nurses and doctors involved in operational level management of cervical cancer. The respondents were drawn from four provincial hospitals and the only two main National public referral hospitals in Kenya. Twenty one [21] nurse managers and twelve [12] medical doctors were interviewed using a standardized interview guide. The responses were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim and the content analyzed in emerging themes.
Four themes were identified. Patient related challenges included a large number of patients, presenting in the late stage of disease, low levels of knowledge on cancer of the cervix, low levels of screening and a poor attitude towards screening procedure. Individual health care providers identified a lack of specialised training, difficulty in disclosure of diagnosis to patients, a poor attitude towards cervical cancer screening procedure and a poor attitude towards cervical cancer patients. Health facilities were lacking in infrastructure and medical supplies. Some managers felt ill-equipped in technological skills while the majority lacked access to the internet. Mobile phones were identified as having great potential for improving the management of cervical cancer in Kenya.
Kenya faces a myriad of challenges in the management of cervical cancer. The peculiar negative attitude towards screening procedure and the negative attitude of some managers towards cervical cancer patients need urgent attention. The potential use of mobile phones in cervical cancer management should be explored.
PMCID: PMC3626574  PMID: 23566436
Challenges; Attitudes; Opportunities; Cervical cancer; Health care managers; Kenya
22.  Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices for Cervical Cancer Screening Among the Bhutanese Refugee Community in Omaha, Nebraska 
Journal of community health  2014;39(5):872-878.
Cervical cancer is the second most common cause of cancer mortality among women with the vast majority of patients in developing countries. Bhutanese refugees in the United States are from South Central Asia, the 4th leading region of the world for cervical cancer incidence. Over the past few years, Bhutanese refugees have increased significantly in Nebraska. This study evaluates current knowledge of cervical cancer and screening practices among the Bhutanese refugee women in Omaha, Nebraska. The study aimed to investigate cervical cancer and screening knowledge and perceptions about the susceptibility and severity of cervical cancer and perceived benefits and barriers to screening. Self-administered questionnaires and focus groups based on the Health Belief Model were conducted among 42 healthy women from the Bhutanese refugee community in Omaha. The study revealed a significant lack of knowledge in this community regarding cervical cancer and screening practices, with only 22.2 % reporting ever hearing of a Pap test and 13.9 % reporting ever having one. Only 33.3 % of women were in agreement with their own perceived susceptibility to cervical cancer. Women who reported ever hearing about the Pap test tended to believe more strongly about curability of the disease if discovered early than women who never heard about the test (71.4 vs. 45.0 %, for the two groups. respectively). Refugee populations in the United States are in need for tailored cancer education programs especially when being resettled from countries with high risk for cancer.
PMCID: PMC4175018  PMID: 25060231
Bhutanese; Screening; Cervical cancer; Nebraska
23.  Client satisfaction with cervical cancer screening in Malawi 
Assessing client and patient satisfaction towards a service is of programmatic importance. A study was conducted in Malawi between July and October 2013 to assess client satisfaction among women who had been screened for cervical cancer using Visual Inspection with Acetic acid test.
This was a cross sectional descriptive study which was conducted in 16 out of 43 cervical cancer screening centres. A semi structured questionnaire was used for data collection. Data were analyzed using STATA version 11 for windows. Descriptive statistics were computed to summarize participant characteristics. Logistic regression was also conducted to assess the relationship between client satisfaction with the service and the independent variables.
One hundred and twenty women with a mean age of 33.7 (SD = 10.1) participated in the survey. All women reported being satisfied with the received service at the facility, with 68.33% reported to be very satisfied. All demographic characteristics such as age, marital status, level of education, with exception of distance to the nearest health facility had no statistically significant association with satisfaction at both univariate and multivariate analysis. However, previous knowledge about the cause of the disease itself, its prevention, knowledge that the disease can be cured, knowledge of clinic times, previous knowledge of the VIA screening test and the source from where they heard about cervical cancer had a statistical significant relationship with the outcome variable. Logistic regression revealed that satisfaction in this study was predicted by having an appointment before the screening with adjusted odd ratio of 5.71(95%CI: 1.75 – 18.63), having previous knowledge of the VIA test, AOR = 0.021(95% CI: 0.002-0.226) distance from the home to the health facility AOR = 0.11(95%CI: 0.02-0.65) and waiting time AOR = 0.09 with 95% CI: 0.09 – 0.83. Having an appointment had the only independent variable with a positive relationship with satisfaction.
Women were satisfied with the screening service. The study also showed several challenges in cervical cancer screening services which can be considered as areas of potential improvement.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-420) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4180310  PMID: 25245860
Cervical cancer; Screening; Satisfaction; Visual inspection with acetic acid
24.  Disability Transitions and Health Expectancies among Adults 45 Years and Older in Malawi: A Cohort-Based Model 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(5):e1001435.
Collin Payne and colleagues investigated development of disabilities and years expected to live with disabilities in participants 45 years and older participating in the Malawi Longitudinal Survey of Families and Health.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Falling fertility and increasing life expectancy contribute to a growing elderly population in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA); by 2060, persons aged 45 y and older are projected to be 25% of SSA's population, up from 10% in 2010. Aging in SSA is associated with unique challenges because of poverty and inadequate social supports. However, despite its importance for understanding the consequences of population aging, the evidence about the prevalence of disabilities and functional limitations due to poor physical health among older adults in SSA continues to be very limited.
Methods and Findings
Participants came from 2006, 2008, and 2010 waves of the Malawi Longitudinal Survey of Families and Health, a study of the rural population in Malawi. We investigate how poor physical health results in functional limitations that limit the day-to-day activities of individuals in domains relevant to this subsistence-agriculture context. These disabilities were parameterized based on questions from the SF-12 questionnaire about limitations in daily living activities. We estimated age-specific patterns of functional limitations and the transitions over time between different disability states using a discrete-time hazard model. The estimated transition rates were then used to calculate the first (to our knowledge) microdata-based health expectancies calculated for SSA. The risks of experiencing functional limitations due to poor physical health are high in this population, and the onset of disabilities happens early in life. Our analyses show that 45-y-old women can expect to spend 58% (95% CI, 55%–64%) of their remaining 28 y of life (95% CI, 25.7–33.5) with functional limitations; 45-y-old men can expect to live 41% (95% CI, 35%–46%) of their remaining 25.4 y (95% CI, 23.3–28.8) with such limitations. Disabilities related to functional limitations are shown to have a substantial negative effect on individuals' labor activities, and are negatively related to subjective well-being.
Individuals in this population experience a lengthy struggle with disabling conditions in adulthood, with high probabilities of remitting and relapsing between states of functional limitation. Given the strong association of disabilities with work efforts and subjective well-being, this research suggests that current national health policies and international donor-funded health programs in SSA inadequately target the physical health of mature and older adults.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
The population of the world is getting older. In almost every country, the over-60 age group is growing faster than any other age group. In 2000, globally, there were about 605 million people aged 60 years or more; by 2050, 2 billion people will be in this age group. Much of this increase in the elderly population will be in low-income countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, 10% of the population is currently aged 45 years or more, but by 2060, a quarter of the population will be so-called mature adults. In all countries, population aging is the result of women having fewer children (falling fertility) and people living longer (increasing life expectancy). Thus, population aging is a demographic transition, a change in birth and death rates. In low- and middle-income countries, population aging is occurring in parallel with an “epidemiological transition,” a shift from communicable (infectious) diseases to non-communicable diseases (for example, heart disease) as the primary causes of illness and death.
Why Was This Study Done?
Both the demographic and the epidemiological transition have public health implications for low-income countries. Good health is important for the independence and economic productivity of older people. Productive older people can help younger populations financially and physically, and help compensate for the limitations experienced by younger populations infected with HIV. Also, low-income countries lack social safety nets, so disabled older adults can be a burden on younger populations. Thus, the health of older individuals is important to the well-being of people of all ages. As populations age, low-income countries will need to invest in health care for mature and elderly adults and in disease prevention programs to prevent or delay the onset of non-communicable diseases, which can limit normal daily activities by causing disabilities. Before providing these services, national policy makers need to know the proportion of their population with disabilities, the functional limitations caused by poor physical health, and the health expectancies (the number of years a person can expect to be in good health) of older people in their country. In this cohort modeling study, the researchers estimate health expectancies and transition rates between different levels of disability among mature adults in Malawi, one of the world's poorest countries, using data collected by the Malawi Longitudinal Survey of Families and Health (MLSFH) on economic, social, and health conditions in a rural population. Because Malawi has shorter life expectancies and earlier onset of disability than wealthier countries, the authors considered individuals aged 45 and older as mature adults at risk for disability.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers categorized the participants in the 2006, 2008, and 2010 waves of the MLSFH into three levels of functional limitation (healthy, moderately limited, and severely limited) based on answers to questions in the SF-12 health survey questionnaire that ask about disabilities that limit daily activities that rural Malawians perform. The researchers estimated age–gender patterns of functional limitations and transition rates between different disability states using a discrete-time hazard model, and health expectancies by running a microsimulation to model the aging of synthetic cohorts with various starting ages but the same gender and functional limitation distributions as the study population. These analyses show that the chance of becoming physically disabled rises sharply with age, with 45-year-old women in rural Malawi expected to spend 58% of their estimated remaining 28 years with functional limitations, and 45-year-old men expected to live 41% of their remaining 25.4 years with functional limitations. Also, on average, a 45-year-old woman will spend 2.7 years with moderate functional limitation and 0.6 years with severe functional limitation before she reaches 55; for men the corresponding values are 1.6 and 0.4 years. Around 50% of moderately and 60%–80% of severely limited individuals stated that pain interfered quite a bit or extremely with their normal work during the past four weeks, suggesting that pain treatment may help reduce disability.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that mature adults in rural Malawi will have some degree of disability during much of their remaining lifetime. The risks of experiencing functional limitations are higher and the onset of persistent disabilities happens earlier in Malawi than in more developed contexts—the proportions of remaining life spent with severe limitations at age 45 in Malawi are comparable to those of 80-year-olds in the US. The accuracy of these findings is likely to be affected by assumptions made during modeling and by the quality of the data fed into the models. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that functional limitations, which have a negative effect on the labor activity of individuals, will become more prominent in Malawi (and probably other sub-Saharan countries) as the age composition of populations shifts over the coming years. Older populations in sub-Saharan Africa are not targeted well by health policies and programs at present. Consequently, these findings suggest that policy makers will need to ensure that additional financial resources are provided to improve health-care provision for aging individuals and to lessen the high rates of functional limitation and associated disabilities.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Andreas Stuck, et al.
The World Health Organization provides information on many aspects of aging (in several languages); the WHO Study on Global Ageing and Adult Health (SAGE) is compiling longitudinal information on the health and well-being of adult populations and the aging process
The United Nations Population Fund and HelpAge International publication Ageing in the Twenty-First Century is available
HelpAge International is an international nongovernmental organization that helps older people claim their rights, challenge discrimination, and overcome poverty, so that they can lead dignified, secure, and healthy lives
More information on the Malawi Longitudinal Study of Families and Health is available
PMCID: PMC3646719  PMID: 23667343
25.  Health seeking behavior for cervical cancer in Ethiopia: a qualitative study 
Although cervical cancer is a leading cause of cancer related morbidity and mortality among women in Ethiopia, there is lack of information regarding the perception of the community about the disease.
Focus group discussions were conducted with men, women, and community leaders in the rural settings of Jimma Zone southwest Ethiopia and in the capital city, Addis Ababa. Data were captured using voice recorders, and field notes were transcribed verbatim from the local languages into English language. Key categories and thematic frameworks were identified using the health belief model as a framework, and presented in narratives using the respondents own words as an illustration.
Participants had very low awareness of cervical cancer. However, once the symptoms were explained, participants had a high perception of the severity of the disease. The etiology of cervical cancer was thought to be due to breaching social taboos or undertaking unacceptable behaviors. As a result, the perceived benefits of modern treatment were very low, and various barriers to seeking any type of treatment were identified, including limited awareness and access to appropriate health services. Women with cervical cancer were excluded from society and received poor emotional support. Moreover, the aforementioned factors all caused delays in seeking any health care. Traditional remedies were the most preferred treatment option for early stage of the disease. However, as most cases presented late, treatment options were ineffective, resulting in an iterative pattern of health seeking behavior and alternated between traditional remedies and modern treatment methods.
Lack of awareness and health seeking behavior for cervical cancer was common due to misconceptions about the cause of the disease. Profound social consequences and exclusion were common. Access to services for diagnosis and treatment were poor for a variety of psycho-social, and health system reasons. Prior to the introduction or scale up of cervical cancer prevention programs, socio-cultural barriers and health service related factors that influence health seeking behavior must be addressed through appropriate community level behavior change communications.
PMCID: PMC3544623  PMID: 23273140
Cervical cancer; Health seeking behavior; Ethiopia

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