The influence of knowledge and perception of the risk of cervical cancer on screening behavior in mainland Chinese women

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Theories of health behavior and empirical research highlight the risk perception as a significant factor for people adopting cancer screening. However, screening uptakes and risk perception of cervical cancer in mainland Chinese women remains unknown.


This paper adopted the protection motivation theory (PMT) to examine Chinese women's knowledge and perceptions of cervical cancer risk and factors influencing utilization of cervical screening.


A self-administered questionnaire was completed by 167 participants in mainland China (79 nonscreened and 88 screened women) in 2007 which consisted of four sections: background information, women's attendance pattern for cervical screening, perceptions related to body health and knowledge about cervical cancer and screening, and PMT measures.


All women considered themselves at low risk of cervical cancer. No significant association was observed between previous screening uptake and PMT variables. Using multivariate analysis, having children, a perception that visiting doctors regularly is important to health, average and high levels of knowledge about cervical screening were significantly associated with having been received screening.


Chinese women demonstrated an unrealistic optimism about their personal risk of cervical cancer. The findings do not support an association between risk perception and screening uptake. In spite of this, current findings revealed some possible factors influencing women's screening behavior. This study highlights the significance of knowledge and culturally-relevant health behavior and beliefs about cervical screening for Chinese women in determining whether or not they receive screening. The promotion of cervical cancer prevention and early detection should be integrated into public education about women's health. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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