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Gynecol Oncol. 2014 Dec;135(3):487-94. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2014.09.019. Epub 2014 Oct 2.

Self-sampling experiences among non-attendees to cervical screening.

Author information

Mass Screening Registry, Finnish Cancer Registry, Unioninkatu 22, FI-00130 Helsinki, Finland. Electronic address:
Helsinki University Central Hospital, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Jorvi Hospital, PL 800, 00029 HUS, Finland.
Mass Screening Registry, Finnish Cancer Registry, Unioninkatu 22, FI-00130 Helsinki, Finland.
Finnish Cancer Registry, Unioninkatu 22, FI-00130 Helsinki, Finland.



High coverage and attendance is essential to positive cervical cancer screening results. Offering self-sampling for HPV-testing to the non-attendees of the program may improve attendance rates. Information on women's perceptions and experiences with self-sampling (acceptability) is needed to further optimize attendance by this method.


A questionnaire study focusing on women's experiences on the screening method was embedded in a trial investigating the effects and feasibility of self-sampling among non-attendees of cervical screening in 31 Finnish municipalities in 2011-2012 (n=4688). Reasons for non-attendance in routine screening were also surveyed.


Response rate to the questionnaire was 98.8% (909/920) among women who performed self-sampling. Self-sampling participants reported mainly good experiences. Negative experiences (difficulties in sample taking, pain, fear, anxiety, insecurity) were reported rarely, but more commonly among women with a mother tongue other than Finnish or Swedish (immigrants). Most common reason for non-attendance in routine screening was a recent Pap-smear elsewhere (opportunistic screening). Practical reasons (pregnancy, scheduling difficulties) were reported by 42%, emotional or attitudinal reasons by 17%, and 16% forgot to take part. Response yield to questionnaire was unsatisfactory among those women who declined the self-sampling option.


Optimizing the practical aspects of screening and offering a self-sampling option to non-attendees can help to overcome a large variety of both practical and emotional barriers to traditional screening. More research is needed among the non-attendees to routine screening who decline also the self-sampling option.


Acceptability; Cervical screening; HPV; Non-attendance; Self-sampling

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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