Female perspectives on male involvement in a human-papillomavirus-based cervical cancer-screening program in western Kenya.
BACKGROUND: To be effective, population-based cervical cancer prevention programs must be tailored to meet the needs of the target population. One important factor in cervical cancer screening may include male involvement. To iteratively improve a screening program employing self-collected vaginal swabs for human-papillomavirus (HPV) testing in western Kenya, we examined the role of male partners and community leaders in decision-making and accessing screening services. METHODS: We carried out 604 semi-structured, in-depth interviews (IDIs) with women and community health volunteers who took part in a multiphase trial of implementation strategies for HPV-based cervical cancer screening. IDIs were coded and themes related to decision-making, screening and treatment barriers, and influence of male partners and community leaders were identified and analyzed. RESULTS: Women experienced both support and opposition from their male partners. Partner support took the form of financial support for transportation and emotional support and encouragement, while opposition ranged from anticipated negative reactions to lack of permission, isolation, and abandonment. Though most women described their own partners as supportive, many felt that other male partners would not be supportive. Most participants believed that increased HPV and cervical cancer knowledge would increase partner support. Women reported a general acceptance of involvement of community leaders in education and screening campaigns, in a setting where such leaders may hold influence over men in the community. CONCLUSION: There was a clear interest in involving male partners in the cervical cancer prevention process, specifically in increasing knowledge and awareness. Future research should explore the feasibility and effectiveness of engaging male partners in cervical cancer screening and prevention programs.
Adewumi, K; Oketch, SY; Choi, Y; Huchko, MJ
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