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What influences cervical screening uptake in older women and how can screening programmes translate this knowledge into behaviour-changing strategies?

A qualitative and quantitative research project trinity-college frontgate.

Each year, about 295 women in Ireland are diagnosed with cervical cancer. Smear tests/cervical screening is an effective way to reduce the risk of getting cervical cancer. CervicalCheck the national cervical cancer screening programme offers free smear tests to women aged 25 – 65 years. However, some women, particularly women over 50, do not attend for these important tests.
In this research study, we aim to identify factors that influence womens decisions on cervical screening (non)‚Äźparticipation. The ultimate goals are to maximise cervical screening coverage in Ireland and provide information on women’s understanding of cervical screening in order to optimise screening effectiveness and deliver health gains for individual women and the population. The study will be conducted in 3 phases.

Phase 1 of this study uses qualitative interviews to explore womens views and understanding of cervical screening in Ireland. This phase has been completed.

Phase 2 of this study seeks to determine, by means of a population postal survey, the most important influences on attendance for cervical screening among older women and the inter-relationships between these influences. This phase is currently underway.

Phase 3 will use evidence gathered from phases 1 and 2 to conduct behavioural analysis and so form solutions to the problem of low screening coverage in older women.

Project Partners/collaborators: Trinity College Dublin (Lead), CervicalCheck, The National Cervical Screening Programme, Newcastle University.

Funding: Health Research Board, Ireland.