Agam B Bansal1, Abhijit P Pakhare1, Neelkamal Kapoor2, Ragini Mehrotra3, Arun Mahadeo Kokane1
1Department of Community and Family Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Bhopal University, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India.
2Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Bhopal University, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India.
3Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Bhopal University, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India.
Background: Cervical cancer is the most common cancer among Indian women of reproductive age. Unfortunately, despite the evidence of methods for prevention, most of the women remain unscreened. The reported barriers to screening include unawareness of risk factors, symptoms and prevention; stigma and misconceptions about gynecological diseases and lack of national cervical cancer screening guidelines and policies. This study attempts to assess the knowledge, attitude, and practices related to cervical cancer and its screening among women of reproductive age (15-45 years). Materials and Methods: A facility-based cross-sectional study was done on 400 females of reproductive age who presented to out-patient-department of All India Institute of Medical Sciences Bhopal. Structured questionnaire consisting 20 knowledge items and 7-items for attitude and history of pap smear for practices were administered by one of the investigators after informed consent. Data were entered and analyzed using Epi-Info version 7. Qualitative variables were summarized as counts and percentages while quantitative variables as mean and standard deviation. Predictors of better knowledge, attitude, and practices were identified by binary logistic regression analysis. Results: A total of 442 women were approached for interview of which 400 responded of which two-third (65.5%) had heard of cervical cancer. At least one symptom and one risk factor were known to 35.25% and 39.75% participants. Only 34.5% participants had heard, and 9.5% actually underwent screening test, however, 76.25% of the participants expressed a favorable attitude for screening. Binary logistic regression analysis revealed that education age and income were independent predictors of better knowledge. Education level influences attitude toward screening and actual practice depends on age, income, and marital status. This study shows that despite the fact that women had suboptimal level of knowledge regarding cervical cancer, their attitude is favorable for screening. However, uptake is low in actual practice. Strategic communication targeting eligible women may increase the uptake of screening.
Keywords: Awareness, cervical cancer, pap smear, screening.