Understanding cervical screening non-attendance among ethnic minority women in England

Br J Cancer. 2015 Sep 1;113(5):833-9. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2015.248. Epub 2015 Jul 14.


Background: Women from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds are less likely to attend cervical screening than White British women. This study explored sociodemographic and attitudinal correlates of cervical screening non-attendance among BAME women.

Methods: Women (30-60 years) were recruited from Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Caribbean, African and White British backgrounds (n=720). Participants completed structured interviews.

Results: BAME women were more likely to be non-attenders than white British women (44-71% vs 12%) and fell into two groups: the disengaged and the overdue. Migrating to the United Kingdom, speaking a language other than English and low education level were associated with being disengaged. Being overdue was associated with older age. Three attitudinal barriers were associated with being overdue for screening among BAME women: low perceived risk of cervical cancer due to sexual inactivity, belief that screening is unnecessary without symptoms and difficulty finding an appointment that fits in with other commitments.

Conclusions: BAME non-attenders appear to fall into two groups, and interventions for these groups may need to be targeted and tailored accordingly. It is important to ensure that BAME women understand cancer screening is intended for asymptomatic women and those who have ceased sexual activity may still be at risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Africa / ethnology
  • Bangladesh / ethnology
  • Caribbean Region / ethnology
  • Early Detection of Cancer / statistics & numerical data*
  • England
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening
  • Middle Aged
  • Pakistan / ethnology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / diagnosis*