Barriers and Facilitators to Cervical Cancer Screening in Western Kenya: a Qualitative Study.
About nine out of 10 cervical cancer deaths occur in low-resource countries, with a particularly high burden in sub-Saharan Africa. The objectives of this study were to assess barriers and facilitators to cervical cancer screening in western Kenya from the perspectives of community members and healthcare providers. We conducted two focus groups with female community members (n = 24) and one with providers (n = 12) in Migori County, Kenya. Discussion guides queried about knowledge and awareness of cervical cancer prevention; structural, social, and personal barriers; and facilitators towards cervical cancer screening uptake. Group discussions were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed for emerging themes. Participants in both groups reported low awareness of HPV and cervical cancer screening in the community, and identified that as a main barrier to screening. Community members reported fear of pain and embarrassment as significant barriers to a screening pelvic exam. They also reported that providers' lack of knowledge and discomfort with a sensitive subject were significant barriers. A personal connection to cervical cancer and/or screening was associated with willingness to screen and awareness. Providers reported workload and lack of supplies and trained staff as significant barriers to offering services. Based on these findings, we identified three intervention components to address these facilitators and barriers to screening. They include utilizing existing social networks to expand awareness of cervical cancer risk and screening, training non-physician health workers to meet the demand for screening, and employing female-driven screening techniques such as self-collection of specimens for HPV testing. Cervical cancer prevention programs must take into account the local realities in which they occur. In low-resource areas in particular, identifying low-cost, effective, and culturally appropriate strategies for addressing poor screening uptake is important given limited funding. This study took a formative approach to identify facilitators and barriers to cervical cancer screening based on focus groups and interviews with community members and healthcare providers.
Adewumi, K; Nishimura, H; Oketch, SY; Adsul, P; Huchko, M
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