Aim: To describe some of the factors that act as barriers to effective uptake of breast and cervical cancer screening services among black minority ethnic (BME) groups living in Brent and Harrow in the UK.
Design: A series of focus groups among African Caribbean, African, Gujarati, Pakistani, Greek and Arabic groups were held to discover their perceptions of cancer screening, the barriers to effective uptake and some strategies for intervention.
Sample: This consisted of 135 participants: 85 women and 50 men.
Results: Analysis of focus group data has revealed poor knowledge, underlying health and cultural beliefs, attitudes, language and unhelpful attitudes of health professionals to be important barriers. In terms of strategies for effective intervention, the most popular strategy for improving uptake of screening services was community-based cancer awareness education that is sensitive to religious and cultural needs.
Conclusion: There is a need to provide community-based education to increase the uptake of screening services among BME groups. It is essential to plan concurrently to educate GPs and other health professionals in cultural beliefs and customs, language needs, racial awareness and communication skills.