Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women worldwide and is the leading cause of deaths in developing countries. Despite the strong evidence that cervical cancer screening results in decreased mortality from this disease, the uptake for cervical screening among Jamaican women remains low. A cross-sectional descriptive study of 403 women ages 19 years and older from Portland, Jamaica, was carried out recently by Dr. Pauline E. Jolly, professor in the department of epidemiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and colleagues to identify factors associated with Jamaican women’s decisions to screen for cervical cancer.
An interviewer administered-questionnaire assessed each woman’s cervical cancer screening history, as well as her knowledge, attitudes, and practices regarding the disease and screening. Of the 403 women interviewed, 66 percent had previously had a Papanicolaou (Pap) smear but only 16 percent had had a Pap test within the past year. Significant predicators of uptake of screening were being married, age, parity, discussing cancer with health provider, perception of consequences of not having a Pap smear, and knowing a person with cervical cancer. Women who did not know where to go for a Pap smear were 85 percent less likely to have been screened (prevalence odds ratio: 0.15, 95 percent confidence interval: 0.04, 0.52).
The study showed suboptimal uptake of cervical cancer screening among Jamaican women. Dr. Jolly and her colleagues concluded that multipronged approaches are needed to address barriers to screening, as well as to identify and support conditions that encourage women’s use of reproductive health services, thereby reducing incidence and mortality rates from cervical cancer.
“Factors Associated with the Uptake of Cervical Cancer Screening among Women in Portland, Jamaica” was published in March in North American Journal of Medical Sciences.