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Motivators for women to attend cervical screening: the influential role of GPs

22 Jul 2014


Participation in organized cervical cancer screening has declined recently. While research has focussed on barriers to screening participation, less attention has been paid to what motivates women to attend. Moreover, little is known about health care provider/practitioner-level barriers and facilitators to participation. Better understanding of these issues could help inform strategies to improve participation.


To explore the role of GPs in influencing women’s cervical screening behaviours and investigate other motivators for women to attend for a cervical smear.


Ten focus groups were conducted in Ireland, shortly before the launch of a national cervical screening programme. Discussions were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and transcripts were analysed thematically.


GPs greatly influence women’s screening behaviours and can have a positive or negative impact on women’s participation in screening. Four major subthemes emerged in relation to this: the attitude of the GP; prompting by the GP; trust in the GP and women’s relationships with their GP. Two main motivators to screening participation were identified: personal reasons/benefits (e.g. potential of smears to be life-saving); and practical issues/convenience. Women’s also expressed desires for what they would like to see incorporated in the national screening programme (e.g. an ‘out-of-hours’ service).


GPs can impact positively and negatively on women’s cervical screening participation. Providing on-going support to GPs around their cervical screening practices is essential to maximize screening attendance. Targeted information materials that focus on the personal reasons and benefits of having smear tests could help stimulate women to participate.

22 July 2014

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Family Practice