Socio-demographic correlates of cervical cancer risk factor knowledge among screening non-participants in Great Britain

Prev Med. 2019 Aug;125:1-4. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2019.04.026. Epub 2019 May 11.


This study explored knowledge of cervical cancer risk factors among cervical screening non-participants in Great Britain. The aim was to identify knowledge gaps that could be targeted in screening information materials or public education campaigns. We used a cross-sectional design to survey women aged 25 to 64 years living in Great Britain, identified as cervical screening non-participants through self-report questions. Data were collected via a household survey. Survey questions measured awareness of risk factors for cervical cancer and socio-demographic factors. Screening non-participants were included in the study (n = 793) and classified into non-participant groups based on the Precaution Adoption Process Model. Across the sample, 57% of participants identified 'not going for regular smear tests' as a risk factor for cervical cancer. Women who intended to be screened were more likely to identify this risk factor than other non-participant groups (OR = 2.13, 95% CI: 1.51-2.99). Women age 55-64 years (OR = 0.60, 95% CI: 0.39-0.93) and women from non-white ethnic backgrounds (OR = 0.70, 95% CI: 0.52-0.94) were less likely to recognise this risk factor. Recognition was lower for 'infection with human papillomavirus' (41%). Just over half the sample were aware that screening non-attendance is associated with increased cervical cancer risk, suggesting that non-attendance at screening is not always based on an accurate understanding of the offer. Overall, non-participants are poorly informed about cervical cancer risk factors and further work is needed to ensure that women are making informed choices about (non-) participation.

Keywords: Cervical cancer screening; HPV; Informed choice; Knowledge; Sexual health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Demography*
  • Early Detection of Cancer / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice / ethnology*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Papillomavirus Infections / prevention & control
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care* / ethnology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care* / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / prevention & control*