Exploring the possibility of sexual-behavioural primary prevention interventions for cervical cancer

Aust N Z J Public Health. 1998;22(3 Suppl):353-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-842x.1998.tb01391.x.


Consistent causal and risk factors for cervical cancer indicate that primary prevention may be beneficial for cervical cancer prevention. However, social or behavioural primary prevention strategies are seldom discussed in the prevention literature. This paper uses thematic analyses of interviews with key informants involved with cervical cancer prevention policy development in New Zealand to explore the possibility of sexual-behavioural primary prevention. While many informants perceived primary prevention to be important, others were cautiously accepting or opposed to it. Many concerns were raised that highlighting a preventable (sexually transmitted) causal factor might lead to blame and stigma around cervical cancer and reduce participation in cervical screening. Much of the support for primary prevention depended on it being conducted (indirectly) in the context of young people's sexual health education. Positions on primary prevention appeared to be informed by common presumptions about what happens in the 'real world' and the commonality of human papilloma virus in the general population. We contend that the possible health benefits from sexual-behavioural strategies for cervical cancer primary prevention need further exploration.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health*
  • Female
  • Guilt
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • New Zealand
  • Papillomaviridae
  • Papillomavirus Infections / complications
  • Primary Prevention / methods*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Viral / complications
  • Stereotyping
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tumor Virus Infections / complications
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / virology