RESEARCH ARTICLE


Utilization of Cervical Cancer Screening Services among Women in Vhembe District, South Africa: A Cross-Sectional Study



Elisa N. Vhuromu1, Daniel T. Goon2, Maria S. Maputle1, Rachel T. Lebese1, *, Benedine U. Okafor2
1 Department of Advanced Nursing Science, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa
2 Department of Nursing Science, University of Fort Hare, East London, South Africa


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© 2018 Vhuromu et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode. This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the School of Health Sciences, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa, 0950; E-mail: Rachel.Lebese@univen.ac.za


Abstract

Aim:

Screening for early detection and treatment of cervical cancer is a cornerstone of prevention. The purpose of this study was to assess the awareness in women about the utilization of cervical cancer screening services in Vhembe District, South Africa.

Methods:

This cross-sectional study involved a random selection of 500 women aged 20-59 years in Vhembe District, Limpopo Province, South Africa. Data was collected via a self-structured questionnaire on the demographic variables, provision, utilization and awareness of cervical cancer screening services.

Results:

The majority of the participants agreed to have cervical cancer screening services in their clinics (79.2%), and never had a Pap smear (58.6%). Most women would not go for cervical cancer screening, mainly because of a lack of facilities (30.0%), fear of pain (24.4%), and embarrassment (15.2%). Most participants indicated that Pap smear test meant scraping the cervix to detect abnormal cancerous cells (39.2%) and 34.2% did not know a Pap smear. Majority of the participants indicated Pap smears should be done every 10 years (65.8%); Pap smears could detect cervical cancer earlier (66.8%), and had heard about cervical cancer (71.6%). The majority of the participants considered cervical cancer as a serious problem to warrant considerable attention (59.4%); and some perceived cervical cancer as transmittable through multiple sexual partners (22.2%). The majority of the participants were aware of a vaccine against cervical cancer for girls at school (69.0%), and it was indicated that government should use health education to encourage women to attend cervical screening services (51.6%).

Conclusion:

Despite the free availability of cervical cancer screening services and awareness, the utilization of cervical cancer screening services is low. There is a need to intensify cervical screening health talks and campaigns, and to provide alternative accessible options for screening services for women in rural areas.

Keywords: Cervical cancer, Screening services, Utilization, Intervention strategy, Pap smear test, South Africa.