Ethnic disparities in knowledge of cancer screening programmes in the UK

J Med Screen. 2010;17(3):125-31. doi: 10.1258/jms.2010.009112.


Objective: The aim of the study was to examine awareness of the three National Cancer Screening Programmes (breast, cervical, bowel) among white and ethnic minority groups in the UK.

Setting: Data were from two surveys in which the screening questions were added: (i) the Office of National Statistics (ONS) Opinions Survey, carried out in September and October 2008; and (ii) the Ethnibus™ survey of the main ethnic minority groups in England, conducted in October and November 2008.

Methods: The ONS sample consisted of 2216 adults selected using stratified probability sampling to obtain a population-representative sample. The Ethnibus™ sample was obtained by quota sampling and included 1500 adults from the six largest ethnic minority groups in England (Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Caribbean, African and Chinese). Participants completed questions on awareness of cancer screening programmes as part of the wider Cancer Awareness Measure (CAM) in home-based, face-to-face interviews.

Results: Awareness of breast and cervical cancer screening was high in the white ONS participants (89% breast and 84% cervical), lower in the ONS ethnic minority sample (74% for both breast and cervical) and lowest in the Ethnibus™ sample (69% breast and 66% cervical). Ethnic disparities persisted after controlling for age, gender and occupational group. In both groups, knowledge of breast and cervical screening was lower among men and more socioeconomically deprived groups. Awareness of the new bowel cancer screening programme was less than 30% in both white and ethnic minority groups.

Conclusions: Ethnic disparities in knowledge of breast and cervical cancer screening should be addressed. Strategies to engage ethnic minority and socioeconomically deprived groups in bowel cancer screening should be instigated to avoid the emergence of disparities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Early Detection of Cancer / statistics & numerical data*
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / diagnosis*