An appraisal of the level of awareness and utilization of the Pap smear as a cervical cancer screening test among female health workers in a tertiary health institution

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Abstract

Papanicolaou (Pap) smear test is considered the best approach to reduce cervical cancer incidence worldwide. We surveyed 195 female health workers with structured questionnaires to identify factors that could influence the awareness and utilization of the Pap smear as a cervical cancer screening test. More than 65% of the respondents were aware of the disease, cervical cancer, and approximately 64% were aware of the Pap smear test. Seven three (39.7%) of the respondents had their sexual debut (coitarche) before the age of 20 years, while 109 (59.9%) have had multiple sexual partners. The modal number of sexual partners was 3, range 0–8. Pap smear awareness level significantly varied among the categories of the female health workers (P < 0.001). A minority of 14.1% have had a Pap test. There was a significant variation in utilization of Pap test across the various categories of the health workers (Pearson Chi-square 14.67, P < 0.05), and a significant correlation between Pap smear awareness and utilization (P < 0.001). The majority, 89%, believed that they were not at risk of developing cervical cancer. The self-reported utilization of Pap test among health workers was low. While there was a positive correlation between Pap test awareness and utilization, screening uptake was very poor due to a combination of inappropriate beliefs, misapprehension, and deficient knowledge. There is an urgent need for an aggressive awareness campaign and the provision of a screening program nationally.

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