Exploring the acceptability of two self-sampling devices for human papillomavirus testing in the cervical screening context: a qualitative study of Muslim women in London

Author(s): Szarewski A, Cadman L, Ashdown-Barr L, Waller J


Objectives: We explored Muslim women's attitudes to self-sampling for human papillomavirus (HPV) in the context of cervical cancer screening and their responses to two self-sampling devices.

Setting: A Muslim community centre in north-east London.

Methods: Following a talk given on the subject of cervical cancer and HPV at the community centre, 28 women were recruited to take part in three focus group discussions. The discussion covered cervical screening, self-sampling and HPV testing. Women were also asked for their responses to a swab self-sampling kit and a cervico-vaginal lavage device. Discussions were recorded and transcribed verbatim and the qualitative data were analysed using Framework Analysis.

Results: Participants were generally positive about cervical screening but acknowledged that some women in their community were reluctant to attend because of embarrassment, language difficulties, fear or because they were unmarried and did not want to communicate implicit messages about being sexually active. Self-sampling met a mixed response - women were concerned about not doing the test correctly, but thought that it might overcome barriers to screening for some women. HPV testing itself was thought to raise potentially difficult issues relating to trust and fidelity within marriages. Although most women said they would prefer to continue to have screening by a health professional, if they were to perform self-sampling, there was overwhelming preference for the swab over the lavage kit.

Conclusions: There was limited enthusiasm for self-sampling in this group of Muslim women who had mostly attended for cervical screening, but a clear preference for a swab rather than a cervico-vaginal lavage.

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