“A lot can happen in five years”: Women’s attitudes to extending cervical screening intervals

Susanna Kola-Palmer, Melanie Rogers, Abigail Halliday, Rose Rickford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: Evidence suggests that cervical screening intervals can be extended and lifetime cervical screening for human papillomavirus (HPV)-vaccinated women could be reduced. This study examines UK women's attitudes to extending screening intervals and assesses associations between knowledge, risk perception and HPV vaccination status, and acceptability of changes. Methods: Using a convenience sampling strategy, an anonymous mixed-methods online survey was used and data recorded from 647 women (mean age = 28.63, SD = 8.69). Results: Across the full sample, 46.1% of women indicated they would wait 5 years for their next cervical screening, while 60.2% of HPV-vaccinated women would be unwilling to have as few as three cervical screens in a lifetime. Multivariate analysis revealed those who are regular screened, those who intend to attend when invited, and those who perceive greater personal risk of cervical cancer are less likely to accept a 5-year screening interval. Qualitative findings relating to benefits of extending intervals included convenience of less tests, less physical discomfort, and psychological distress. Concerns identified included the likelihood of developing illness, increased psychological distress relating to what may be happening in the body, and worries about increased risk of cervical cancer. Conclusion: Women need clear and specific information about HPV timelines, their relationship with cancer risk, and the rationale for extending screening intervals.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13655
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer Care
Early online date15 Jul 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Jul 2022

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