Purpose: To assess the acceptability of self-collection of specimens for human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA testing and to explore whether use of self-collected specimens would increase intention to participate in regular screening among low-income, inner-city, minority women.
Methods: A written survey was administered to 172 women after they underwent gynecological examination and self-collection of a sample for HPV DNA testing.
Results: Participants agreed that ease of use (69%), less painful procedure (62%), "could do it myself" (56%), and privacy (52%) were desirable characteristics of the self-sampling procedure they performed. Most of the participants (57%) reported that there was nothing they did not like about self-sampling; however, the majority (68%) preferred the clinician-collected test. Those recruited through a sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinic were significantly more likely than those recruited at a cancer screening clinic (57% vs. 24%), those with some or more college education were significantly more likely than those with less education (43% vs. 26%), and those who were not Hispanic were significantly more likely than those who were Hispanic (49% vs. 28%) to prefer the self-collected test. Although most women (47%) reported that they would be most likely to attend regular screening if tested by a clinician during a pelvic examination, 21% asserted that self-collection at home would increase their likelihood of participation in screening.
Conclusions: Although most of the predominantly Hispanic, low-income, uninsured, and recently screened women in the study preferred clinician-collected HPV tests to self-collected sampling, self-sampling is acceptable to the majority and may increase the likelihood of participation in cervical cancer screening programs.