Author: Maura Matthews, Gail Hughes, Sioned Pearce – Tenovus Cancer Charity

Day One – Tuesday 25th June

Strand – Health & Well Being

Session Two: 2.45pm – 4.15pm     

Currently almost 1 in 4 (24.5%) Welsh women do not take-up their cervical screening invitation. There is evidence to indicate this number is higher among vulnerable women. Studies show the limited knowledge of cervical screening amongst women living in deprived areas, including risks and preventative factors. Also awareness of gynaecological symptoms indicative of cancer was less amongst women with lower literacy levels. These factors, together with identified key barriers to attending cervical screening including fear, embarrassment, time constraints and not understanding the potential consequences of not attending, can put vulnerable women at greater risk of cervical cancer. Studies have identified a need to reduce the social inequalities among vulnerable women and it is this which formed the basis for Tenovus’s work with Women’s Aid.

Working in partnership with Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust the project provided education on cervical cancer risk for keyworkers working with women receiving support from Women’s Aid. The basis of this was to raise key workers’ awareness, confidence and advocacy skills when discussing cervical cancer and screening with their clients. Methods used included a pre-intervention questionnaire for Women’s Aid keyworkers; a pre-intervention questionnaire for clients (women living in the Women’s Aid refuges); semi-structured post-intervention interviews with key workers and participant observation during the intervention itself.

The key message resulting from interviews indicate multiple, overlapping, barriers to attending screening and a large variation in ways to overcome them. When conducting a project to increase cervical screening uptake among vulnerable women, there is no ‘one size fits all’.

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