Cervical cancer is the second most common female cancer in the world leading to 93 deaths every year in Ireland. Cervical Cancer can be prevented through routine screening, which involves taking a smear test from an asymptomatic woman to check for any pre-cancerous changes in the cervix. The Irish screening programme has not reached full capacity in uptake rates since it was implemented in 2008. This study looked at the factors which influence women’s intentions to go for a smear test, with the aim that these could be researched further to increase screening uptake rates.
This quantitative study included a sample of N = 282 women of screening age i.e. between the ages of 25 – 65 years. Participants were required to fill out a google forms questionnaire which included demographic questions, anxiety (DASS) and questions from the Theory of Planned Behaviour model in order to understand which variable impacts most on screening intentions.
Of the women who participated in the study, 67% were between the ages of 25-39 years. Out of 282 women, 81% have previous history of going for smears, and these women had higher mean scores for positive attitude towards screening and had lower levels of anxiety related to cervical screening. A one-way anova revealed that high levels of anxiety associated with screening are linked to women of higher education and to women from the age group 25-39 years. The results from the regression analysis identified behavioural control (p = .00), attitude (p = .00) and recent smear history (p = .00) to be significant in influencing women’s intentions to go for a smear in the future.
The use of the TPB model and understanding women’s past screening behaviours proved to be useful in understanding the factors which are linked with greater intentions to go for smear tests in the future. By identifying the factors which influence women to participate in screening, interventions can be implemented to increase these factors in non-attenders.