Send to

Choose Destination
Br J Fam Plann. 1998 Jan;23(4):127-33.

Women's attitudes to and awareness of smear testing and cervical cancer.

Author information

Guy's Hospital, London Bridge, London SE1 9RT, UK.


A cross sectional survey consisting of a questionnaire of 650 randomly selected women aged 15 to 78 years was performed to gain an insight into women's attitudes to and awareness of smear testing and cervical cancer. Their general health and screening history were noted along with their knowledge of the smear test and cervical cancer. Of the respondents, 80.5 per cent had had at least one smear test and 71.5 per cent of these women have regular smears. The majority of the women (66.9 per cent) thought the test 'no problem' and those who found the test 'embarrassing, painful or troublesome' were of a younger age group. Overall, 76.2 per cent perceived the disease to be a common one. 32.6 per cent of the respondents thought the age group 40s to 50s to be most affected by cervical cancer. On the whole, women appeared to be well informed of the link between the number of sexual partners and cervical cancer as well as recognising smoking to be a contributing factor. A substantial proportion (91.7 per cent) of women were of the attitude that cancer can be treated if detected early enough. The perceived barrier such as embarrassment and discomfort played a part in women's decision in returning for a regular smear. By influencing the awareness and perceptions through public health education as well as creating an appropriate environment for the test, this can indeed help to reduce personal perceived barriers and increase the uptake of smear testing.


Women's attitudes toward and awareness of smear testing for cervical cancer were investigated in a cross-sectional survey of 650 women 15-78 years of age randomly recruited at 2 hospitals in London, England. 80.5% of these women had had at least 1 Pap smear and 71.5% reported regular smears (every 3-5 years). 37.4% of women who attended regular health check-ups, compared with 23.1% who did not, made regular visits for screening. 66.9% considered the test "no problem." Women who regarded it as "embarrassing, painful, or troublesome" were significantly younger than those who did not. 23.3% of women who found the test to be "no problem," compared with 40.3% who considered it "embarrassing" and 58.8% who thought it was "troublesome," did not schedule regular visits for a Pap smear. 76.2% perceived cervical cancer to be a common disease and there was good awareness of the association between this cancer and both smoking and the number of sexual partners. 91.7% believed cervical cancer could be treated if detected early enough. Knowledge levels were greatest among younger women and those who obtained regular smears. Improvements in the general atmosphere at screening sites and the sensitivity of staff to patient concerns could help improve cervical cancer screening rates.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center