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: 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:



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.


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.


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%).


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.