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BMC Womens Health. 2011 Sep 28;11:43. doi: 10.1186/1472-6874-11-43.

Women's knowledge about cervical cancer risk factors, screening, and reasons for non-participation in cervical cancer screening programme in Estonia.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, National Institute for Health Development, Estonia.



The attendance rate in Estonian cervical cancer screening programme is too low therefore the programme is hardly effective. A cross-sectional population based survey was performed to identify awareness of cervical cancer risk factors, reasons why women do not want to participate in cervical screening programme and wishes for better organisation of the programme.


An anonymous questionnaire with a covering letter and a prepaid envelope was sent together with the screening invitation to 2942 randomly selected women. Results are based on the analysis of 1054 (36%) returned questionnaires.


Main reasons for non-participation in the national screening programme were a recent visit to a gynaecologist (42.3%), fear to give a Pap-smear (14.3%), long appointment queues (12.9%) and unsuitable reception hours (11.8%). Fear to give a Pap-smear was higher among women aged 30 and 35 than 50 and 55 (RR 1.46; 95% CI: 0.82-2.59) and women with one or no deliveries (RR 1.56, 95% CI: 0.94-2.58). In general, awareness of cervical cancer risk factors is poor and it does not depend on socio-demographic factors. Awareness of screening was higher among Estonians than Russians (RR 1.64, 95% CI: 1.46-1.86). Most women prefer to receive information about screening from personally mailed invitation letters (74.8%).


Women need more information about cervical cancer risk factors and the screening programme. They prefer personally addressed information sharing. Minority groups should be addressed in their own language. A better collaboration with service providers and discouraging smears outside the programme are also required.

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