Discussions about self-obtained samples for HPV testing as an alternative for cervical cancer prevention

J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 2008 Dec;29(4):251-7. doi: 10.1080/01674820802076038.


Objectives: Patient-collected samples for human papillomavirus (HPV) testing have shown promise, thus opening up a new possibility for cervical cancer screening. The purpose of this study was to explore women's beliefs about collecting their own samples for HPV testing instead of participating in conventional Pap testing.

Methods: Three focus groups were conducted in diverse cities in Ontario, Canada. One group included women from a small under-serviced northern city, one included culturally diverse women from a large urban city, and one included culturally diverse women from a medium sized under-serviced city. Transcripts were coded using open and axial coding as well as focused coding procedures and were organized using qualitative software. The Health Belief Model (HMB) was used as a framework for designing the focus group guide and interpreting the results.

Results: Six overriding themes were identified in the analysis: (1) need (and desire) for information about cervical cancer and HPV, (2) concerns about self-sampling, (3) perceived potential of self-sampling, (4) logistics remain unanswered, (5) need for education and promotion of self-sampling, and (6) need for options.

Conclusion: The six themes were connected to some or all of the HBM components. In particular, self-sampling provides a different benefits-minus-barriers equation, which might make it a preferred screening option for some women.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Medically Underserved Area
  • Middle Aged
  • Ontario
  • Papillomavirus Infections / prevention & control*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Self Care*
  • Specimen Handling
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Vaginal Smears / methods*
  • Vaginal Smears / psychology