Knowledge of HPV and vaccination could improve cervical screening attendance
Information about vaccination against the virus that causes cervical cancer could encourage rather than discourage women to attend for cervical screening, a new survey has found.
A number of commentators have said that vaccinating women against the human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer, could make them complacent about attending for cervical screening (smear test), although to date there has been no evidence to support this.
However, the new research among nearly 400 British women has found that the opposite is true – knowledge about the disease and the vaccine makes women more likely to attend cervical screening.
The new survey looked at views on cervical screening attendance among two groups of women, a group of 24-year-old women yet to be screened – and reasons for nonattendance at cervical screening amongst a group of women aged 26 or 27 who had missed their first appointment.
After being given information about cervical cancer, HPV and vaccination, those saying they would go to their next appointment almost trebled among the 26/27 year olds – up from 22% to 60%.
Dr Jo Waller, from University College London, who has carried out extensive research into women's knowledge of HPV, said: "Research shows that most women still don't understand the connection between HPV and cervical cancer. This link needs to be made clear so that the role of cervical screening and vaccination in the prevention of cervical cancer is better understood."
The survey found a high degree of confusion amongst the women over the cause of cervical cancer. Just 12% of the 24-year-olds correctly named HPV as the cause – and amongst the older group only 9% did so.
The survey was commissioned by GlaxoSmithKline and was carried out by the market research firm Millward Brown Healthcare.
"Very interesting and believable figures. There need to be more highlighted in the community to reach girls who are not at school or higher education. Practices could invite girls that are on the practice register by text, etc" - Jeniffer Williams, East London