Intercultural consultations: investigation of factors that deter non-English speaking women from attending their general practitioners for cervical screening

BMJ. 1994 Oct 29;309(6962):1126-8.


Objectives: To determine the factors that deter ethnic minority women living in east London from attending their general practitioner for cervical cytology screening.

Design: Qualitative study by means of focus group discussions between October 1993 and March 1994.

Setting: East London.

Subjects: Non-health specific established community groups and specially convened groups of Bengali, Kurdish, Turkish, Urdu and Punjabi, and Chinese speaking women.

Main outcome measures: The spontaneous views of non-English speaking women resident in east London on cervical screening, focusing on attitudes to screening, their experiences of the cervical cytology screening services as currently provided, and their knowledge and beliefs about cervical screening.

Results: Some reported attitudinal barriers to cervical cytology screening such as fear of cancer were not deterrents. Administrative and language barriers were more important, as were inadequate surgery premises and concerns about sterility.

Conclusion: Contrary to popular belief among general practitioners in east London, women from ethnic minorities are enthusiastic about cervical cytology screening once they understand the purpose of the test and the call and recall procedures. It is possible to consult with community groups in their own language through focus group discussions, working with bilingual health advocates who have had a short practical training in facilitating small group discussions. This form of user consultation could be carried out focusing on other aspects of health promotion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Asia / ethnology
  • Attitude to Health
  • Communication Barriers
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison*
  • Family Practice*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • London / epidemiology
  • Mass Screening / psychology*
  • Mass Screening / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Turkey / ethnology
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / ethnology
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / psychology
  • Vaginal Smears / psychology*
  • Vaginal Smears / statistics & numerical data
  • Women / psychology*