Inuit women's attitudes and experiences towards cervical cancer and prevention strategies in Nunavik, Quebec

Int J Circumpolar Health. 2012 Mar 19:71:17996. doi: 10.3402/ijch.v71i0.17996.


Objectives: To describe the attitudes about and experiences with cervical cancer, Pap smear screenings and the HPV vaccine among a sample of Inuit women from Nunavik, Quebec, Canada. We also evaluated demographic and social predictors of maternal interest in HPV vaccination.

Study design: A mixed method design was used with a cross-sectional survey and focus group interviews.

Methods: Women were recruited through convenience sampling at 2 recruitment sites in Nunavik from March 2008 to June 2009. Differences in women's responses by age, education, and marital status were assessed. Unconditional logistic regression was used to determine predictors of women's interest in HPV vaccination for their children.

Results: Questionnaires were completed by 175 women aged 18-63, and of these women a total of 6 women aged 31-55 participated in 2 focus groups. Almost half the survey participants had heard of cervical cancer. Women often reported feelings of embarrassment and pain during the Pap smear and older women were more likely to feel embarrassed than younger women. Only 27% of women had heard of the HPV vaccine, and 72% of these women were interested in vaccinating their child for HPV. No statistically significant predictors of maternal interest in HPV vaccination were found.

Conclusions: Our findings indicate that health service planners and providers in Nunavik should be aware of potential barriers to Pap smear attendance, especially in the older age groups. Given the low awareness of cervical cancer, the Pap smear and the HPV vaccine, education on cervical cancer and prevention strategies may be beneficial.

Keywords: Inuit; attitudes; cervical cancer; experiences; human papillomavirus; vaccine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Inuit*
  • Middle Aged
  • Papanicolaou Test
  • Papillomavirus Vaccines
  • Quebec
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Vaginal Smears
  • Women's Health
  • Young Adult


  • Papillomavirus Vaccines

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