Archives of Clinical Microbiology

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Perceived barriers of cervical cancer screening among women attending Mahalapye district hospital, Botswana

C M Ibekwe, M E Hoque, B Ntuli-Ngcobo,, ME Hoque

Background: Cervical cancer is a serious cause of mortality and morbidity among women in less developed countries including Botswana. The objectives of the study were to describe the women’s perceived barriers to cervical cancer and their association with socio-demographic characteristics.

Methods and findings: A cross-sectional hospital based study was conducted by a questionnaire survey with a total of 300 participants selected by convenience sampling techniques. The results of participants’ demographics and outcome variableswere summarized using descriptive summary measures: expressed as mean (SD) for continuous variables and percent for categorical variables. The chi-square test was used to find an association between categorical variables. Participants’ mean age was 37years (SD=11). Cervical cancer screening rate was 39%. More than two-thirds (68%) of the participants believed that cervical cancer screening was not embarrassing.Less than half (48%) mentioned that doing cervical cancer screening did not suggest someone was having sex. More than half (55.5%) of the participants who never screened either strongly disagreed or disagreed that cervical cancer screening was painful. Among those never screened 66.3% either strongly agreed or agreed that lack of information was a barrier to cervical cancer screening as opposed to 51.7% of those that had screened. Forty four percent of the ever screened had high perceived barriers and 60% of the never screened had low perceived barriers. No significant association was found between perceived barriers for cervical cancer screening and screening for cervical cancer (c2 = 0.153; p = 0.696).

Limitations of the study: This study was limited by its cross-sectional design, use of self-report, and convenience sampling.

Conclusion: The screening rate is still far too low compared to the National target of greater than 75%. Most women do not especially point out perceived barriers such as embarrassment, pain, lack of convenient clinic time, lack of information, etc,as barriers to seeking cervical cancer screening. Therefore, more work needs to be done aimed at decreasing perceived barriers to cervical cancer screening through provision of education/information, addressing misconception and beliefs.