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Holly Coulter

Abstract

Background: Cervical cancer is a major public health issue in Kiribati, and a significant cause of morbidity and mortality among women. This persists despite the effectiveness of cervical screening meaning cervical cancer is now largely preventable. There is a need for empirical research into understandings, attitudes and barriers to cervical screening for I-Kiribati women, in order to improve the current low uptake rate.

Methods: A mixed-methods approach was used to identify current understandings, attitudes and barriers to cervical screening. A community survey was administered to 90 men and women across South Tarawa, and three focus groups were conducted with 15 men and women to explore the topic in-depth.

Findings: Knowledge around cervical screening was low for both men and women. 41% of survey respondents identified experiencing symptoms was the primary driver for participating in cervical screening. Barriers to access included embarrassment, fear of the test or results, feeling healthy, believing the practice is inappropriate, and jealousy from males.

Conclusion: There is a need for health promotion and education around cervical screening which builds knowledge, normalises the process, and highlights the need for cervical screening as part of maintaining good health. Health promotion should target both men and women.

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Section
Original Research